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Worldwide tram orders 2016

Michael Taplin presents his annual round up of the worldwide rolling stock market, showing that while overall orders have fallen back a little, options and planned orders look healthy.

After last year’s increase in orders, the number of trams on order in February 2016 had fallen back by about 600 to 3212, but options are up by nearly 200 to 1248, and planned orders are up by nearly 500 to 1415 (plus 191 options). Some of the latter are going to be dependent on the outcome of the US Presidential election in November, but in the meantime the last Obama federal budget has looked favourably on planned schemes.
Durmazlar has reappeared in the list this year and a new manufacturer has joined in Bozankaya. Both are in Turkey, where Siemens also plans to build a new manufacturing facility to take advantage of the planned new schemes in the country. Romanian concern Astra has dropped out, as its joint venture with Siemens has been abandoned after just six cars were built for Arad.

It has been a year of massive change and re-organisation in the rolling stock sector, with Alstom becoming just a transportation enterprise, and Hitachi taking over AnsaldoBreda (and dropping the Italian name due to its negative connotations in favour of a new enterprise designated Hitachi Rail Italy). The two nationalised Chinese giants have merged to become CRRC, while Stadler bought Vossloh’s Spanish factory and order book. Bombardier brought in outside finance for its transportation sector as the parent company still struggles with the financial consequences of its aerospace ventures.
Škoda has acquired a controlling interest in Finnish company Transtech, which is building Artic trams for Helsinki.

Hitachi in particular has taken a gamble that it can revive AnsaldoBreda’s tram business, and overcome the difficulties with its Tramwave surface current collection system that seem to be letting down its Chinese aspirations.
Alstom’s order book looks healthier, even considering its Annaba, Algeria, plant with its captive North African market. It is good to see French cities coming back to the market, with Bordeaux, Lyon and Nice added since last year. South American tramways in Cuenca and Rio de Janeiro will cement the company’s worldwide ambitions, and the performance of the Ottawa contract will probably give the company a positive calling card compared with Bombardier’s delays in fulfilling its contract with Toronto. Alstom shares the tram-train market with Stadler (Vossloh), though its version for SNCF spends all its time on railway tracks rather than in the street. Strasbourg line D may alter that situation.

Although in absolute terms Bombardier remains the most successful tram and LRV manufacturer, its order book is starting to thin out as large orders for Brussels, Frankfurt-am-Main and Manchester are completed (although smaller options remain). In North America its Thunder Bay plant has not covered itself in glory as the large Toronto order has fallen further behind schedule; over reliance on its Mexican factory as a sub-contractor is reported to be the problem, and there are hints that the latest order for Edmonton will be manufactured in Europe as Thunder Bay refocuses its workforce on manufacture rather than just assembly. In Europe the company will look to consolidate its position achieved in Wien (Vienna) with success in tenders from Scandinavia (København, Göteborg, Odense and Oslo), while it is no doubt hoping that there will be a positive outcome to the Zürich situation, recently covered in our news pages.

CAF has seen its order book fall back slightly, though recent success in Canberra is a boost to its ambition to become a truly global supplier and it has also had recent successes in the metro and heavy rail vehicle market. Its options list is higher than its order book, and it seems increasingly unlikely that Stockholm will take up all of its options as it scales back its tramway ambitions. CAF is an organisation that does not seem too bothered about not breaking into the Chinese market, even as a joint venture partner, unlike many of the multinationals. China’s own rolling stock business is probably the largest in the world, and the creation of CRRC will see its executives following up on export successes, as has happened in Tel Aviv, Israel. Some domestic orders have yet to be defined numerically, but could be significant.

The Eastern European manufacturers, Inekon, PESA, koda, Solaris and Pragoimex, have not enjoyed as strong a year as those in recent times, although existing orders are being fulfilled. Inekon seems to have lost its export business to the US as adverse reaction to its problems with the Seattle overhead/battery cars led to Brookville taking over leadership for the small batches needed elsewhere. PESA builds lots of trains, and Solaris sells buses and trolleybuses, so the implications may not be as bad as the figures appear to show. Inekon is about to launch its Chinese-built ‘good value’ tram to the European marketplace, and must be hoping for some western European orders.

Siemens has boosted its position, but scrutiny of the figures shows it is its North American plants at Sacramento that are running to capacity, while European deliveries are stagnating, particularly as the run of ULF production in Wien comes to an end. Loved by customers, but not as admired by engineers and accountants, this design never broke through into the wider market. The Avenio has achieved limited success at its current price point, hence the decision to build a tram factory in Turkey so that better-value products can be offered to its traditional customers.  Stadler has benefited from the takeover of the Vossloh rolling stock business in Spain, home of the tram-train, including designs that run on the street as well as railway tracks. Bochum is keeping the Variobahn production line running, despite other cities having mixed experience with this design. The Tango has seen recent success in Scandanavia, but is also more expensive. The Russian market has had its worst year in recent memory, with just a handful of new trams entering service, despite lots of new designs on demonstrations. The collapse in value of the Rouble has not helped, and PESA still has half-completed Fokstrot cars intended for Moskva in its works yard.

It seems doubtful if attempts to move some of these to Kyiv in Ukraine will achieve much, unless an advantageous source of financing can be found. Alstom’s joint venture with Transmash Holdings to produce the Citadis in Sankt Peterburg appears dormant, although the firm has recently increased its stake in the Russian manufacturer, presumably to take advantage of further heavy rail orders. Other ways to refresh fleets without ordering new vehicles are second-hand purchases or total refurbishment of existing cars. The second-hand market has also slowed significantly, with just the sale of Rotterdam LRVs to Bursa to really point to. The sale of Rouen’s 28 Alstom TFS trams to Gaziantep (a Turkish city close to the Syrian border) has not been a success, with none entering service yet, though eight have been loaned to Kayseri to address capacity issues pending arrival of its new fleet from Bozankaya.

No longer are swathes of withdrawn western European trams heading for eastern Europe; EU funding of new fleets looks a lot more attractive to politicians in those cities. Refurbishment of the solid Duewag Stadtbahn-B LRVs in Köln and Bonn will be followed by a similar process in Bremen, whose budget did not quite stretch to as many new cars as it needed. Sacramento has finally put into service the high-floor LRVs it acquired from Santa Clara, after complete refurbishment by Siemens. And the PCCs live on with Brookville remanufacturing them for the new tramway in El Paso, TX. It is worth pointing out that some of the cities listed in our Orders Pending section must be regarded as speculative; Cozensa, Skopje and Tiranë fall into this category. Nevertheless there are plenty of announcements due this year, which will be a further pointer to the long-term health of the market.