Bombardier started supplying new electrical locomotives to Mercitalia Rail
The delivery of 40 latest-generation TRAXX E494 has started, with an option for another 20 units; despite its 180 million euro investment, FS Italiane Group is still subject to the three Italian trade unions’ criticisms
The first of the 40 new TRAXX E494 electric locomotives – the first unit of the new TRAXX DC 3 model ordered at the end of 2017 and manufactured by Bombardier Transportation in its Vado Ligure (Savona) plant - was delivered to the largest Italian freight railway company Mercitalia Rail (Mercitalia – FS Italiane Group).
The new locomotive and the delivery plan for the subsequent ones were presented in Rome by Railway Transports and Infrastructures Directorate General of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports General Director Enrico Pujia, by Mercitalia Logistics Managing Director Marco Gosso and by Mercitalia Rail Managing Director Gian Paolo Gotelli.
“Together with the interoperable locomotives already ordered by TX Logistik (the German company within Mercitalia operating in the major European countries), the new locomotives are our most important investment, amounting to some 400 million euro which, in the next two years, will allow us to renew a third or our owned locomotives fleet to provide our customers with higher transport capacity and more reliable and timely services”, the incumbent operator’s managing director Gosso observed.
The new TRAXX E494 locomotives form part of the agreement entered into in December 2017 between Mercitalia Rail and Bombardier, providing for the delivery of 5 locomotives per month, for the completion of the supply within October 2019 and for the option for another 20 units in the following months, for a total investment of 180 million euro. The units feature a maximum traction power of 6.4 MW and a 320 kN traction force, allowing to offer freight trains with superior technical characteristics compared to current trains, and ensuring the best comfort and safety standards for drivers.
Thanks to their regenerative braking systems and to their “Eco-mode” innovative system, these locomotives will ensure significantly lower energy consumptions compared to current standards.
Bombardier – that recently started a similar delivery of TRAXX E49 electrical locomotives to the French railway company Captrain – will also provide maintenance for 8 years, ensuring maximum availability and efficiency.
The news about the state operator’s investments – currently accused of stealing qualified workforce from private competitors – did not appease trade unions.
“FS Italiane’s investments in Mercitalia Rail are necessary for the development of railway freight transport, but they are not sufficient. In fact, the Italian Government must ensure the necessary investments both to adapt railway infrastructures and to promote railway freight transport with an effective incentives policy for enterprises”, Fit-Cisl Secretary general Salvatore Pellecchia declared after the presentation of Mercitalia Rail’s new locomotives.
“Besides, production processes must be redesigned to ensure more effective services and meet customers’ requirements, and investments in infrastructures are needed, starting from the connections between railway network and ports, dry ports and interports.
We expected the Ministry of Transports to announce a new incentives policy to favour the transfer of part of freight traffics to railways, also consistently with the European decarbonization directive. Finally, the contribution of Mercitalia Rail workers must be recognized, starting with the renewal of their employment contract expired at the end of 2017, with the payment of the 2018 result bonus and with the internalization of maintenance processes”.
Filt Cgil asked Gosso to urgently meet Mercitalia managing director since “the difference between Mercitalia Rail’s efficiency and effectiveness standards compared to other companies within the FS Group is still alarming. Despite the contract renewal and the consequent crew hiring rules agreed upon in order to favour the company’s productivity, the turnover recovery announced is still a long way off. We need a trend reversal to safeguard the company’s employees”.
Last month also Fast-Confsal voiced its criticisms: “management difficulties are still unresolved. Therefore Mercitalia Rail is still below efficiency and competition standards compared to the other companies within the group. Besides, the turnover recovery announced when the company was incorporated is still far from reach although, through contract renewal and corporate agreements, trade unions helped achieving higher productivity levels. If the trend does not reverse soon, we will be forced to mobilize the category in order to safeguard workers’ legitimate interests as they do not intend to be affected by this short-term management vision”, the trade union’s note concluded.