Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

See? Told you

Posted in Business, Europe, High Speed, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 4 June 2013

I had a feeling something would eventually give in the saga of the Albatross. The V250 high speed EMUs that were intended to run the Fyra service along HSL Zuid, and which were to be procured by both Nederlandse Spoorwegen and NMBS/SNCB, have finally worn the patience of the Belgians to breaking point. SNCB have cancelled the contract they had to procure three V250 sets of their own, and are looking to recoup bank guarantees to the tune of €37m from AnsaldoBreda, the manfacturer. While the sets that had been delivered finally entered service in December 2012, they were withdrawn in January 2013 as a result of safety concerns due to the cold weather. At that time both NS and SNCB commissioned studies into the design, which found numerous issues with the braking system, the battery system, and a lack of protection for the underfloor cabling, and have led to the decision by SNCB. It also transpires that NS are of a similar mindset, and also want to pull out of the project. I hate to say “I told you so”, but back in 2010 I commented on the difficulties Fyra were having with the V250 as compared with the relative ease that Southeastern had introducing the Class 395. Of course, if NS also pulls out, it leaves the question of what to do about the planned Fyra services. SNCB have said that they will look to Thalys to run up to 12 trains per day between Brussels-Midi and Amsterdam Centraal, while at the same time asking Eurostar to introduce a London-Amsterdam via Brussels service from the December 2016 timetable change. Of course, that is dependent on getting the new Class 374 accepted for service. That would still leave NS in something of a hole, as they would not have the trains required for their planned high speed domestic services that they have so trumpeted over the last few years. They would certainly need to procure something else, if they were to still intend going ahead with the plan, perhaps along the lines of the Class 407. Whatever it is they do, I would certainly advise them to pay a little more attention to quality control, rather than simply looking at the bottom line of the cheapest option. Because invariably that ends up costing you the most.

“SNCB pulls out of Fyra V250 deal”
“Dutch railways to dump Italian train”
“Alternatives investigated as NS drops Fyra V250s too”

Both SNCB and Nederlandse Spoorwegen appear to have accepted that their shiny new high speed train is a lemon

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2 Responses

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  1. Claire said, on 4 June 2013 at 11:22 pm

    >>Whatever it is they do, I would certainly advise them to pay a little more attention to quality control, rather than simply looking at the bottom line of the cheapest option. Because invariably that ends up costing you the most.<<
    "Well, quite!" It sort of serves them right but it's silly that they have to learn these things the hard way. It's a good job the problems were discovered before it was too late. I really wonder why these safety concerns weren't checked out before the sets entered service, though…

    • Chairman Pip said, on 6 June 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Sometimes, no matter how many checks a new piece of equipment goes through (and these would not have been subjected to less than stringent tests), when something is a lemon you just can’t iron the problems out. After all, it’s taken nearly ten years to get to this point.


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