November 2010

Alstom Innovation on Display at Innotrans

by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

Innotrans presented 121 rail designs from around the world, including ultra high-speed trains, new trams and hybrid locomotives to a nearly 500-foot-long track-laying vehicle. More than 2,200 exhibitors and a total of 106,612 visitors from more than 110 countries attended the eighth InnoTrans event held September 21 to 24.

Alstom Transport pulled out the big guns or, rather, the big trains for the company's showing at the biannual Innotrans rail transport technology trade fair held in Berlin. Among the company's offerings showcased on the outdoor track site: The high-speed Pendolino train, the Coradia regional train, and the Prima II locomotive. Inside the event hall, Alstom's booth displayed various rolling stock mockups, including one for of its newest high-speed train — the Speedelia.

Innotrans presented 121 rail designs from around the world, including ultra high-speed trains, new trams and hybrid locomotives to a nearly 500-foot-long track-laying vehicle. More than 2,200 exhibitors and a total of 106,612 visitors from more than 110 countries attended the eighth InnoTrans event held September 21 to 24.

Global markets

During a press conference, Alstom President Philippe Mellier gave an overview of the rail market and discussed the company's global reach.

"We are competing in all segments: maintenance, renovation, new build, any type of rolling stock, infrastructure, substations, signaling, and we are a multi-specialist in rail transport," Mellier said. "What is becoming more and more important to us is the multi-geographic dimension of the company."

Mellier also mentioned key contracts signed with France, Germany, Brazil and the opening of a depot in California. Other key project locales include Russia, China and India.

Steady growth is predicted for the company, according to Mellier. Because the company is immersed in all segments of the rail industry, it is able to remain stable when particular segments are not performing as well. "When rolling stock was not doing well because of cuts, we can still do well in signaling, renovations, parts supply and energy supply chain," Mellier said.

While larger metropolitan cities/countries are investing less, new countries like Nigeria, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are joining the market, he said. "We want to be there with infrastructure products and signaling products and capture this potential. We want to [use] all the product lines we have to offer, and we want to go address new geographical markets when they open."

According to Mellier, a few years ago, Russia was not an open market, but now it's potentially the biggest rail market in the world. "They have at least 20,000 locomotives to replace in the next 20 years: 1,000 locomotives per year. To be there at this time is clearly a good opportunity for us," he said.

"At Alstom Transport, we strongly believe that we are the only railway specialist involved in all product lines. We have four types of rolling stock: Trams, regional trains, very high-speed products and the new Speedelia," Mellier said.

The company is also developing a lot of business and investing in turnkey systems.

U.S. projects

During the press conference, when asked how Alstom is ramping up for potential high-speed projects in the U.S., Mellier said the company is well positioned. "[Alstom] is well known in the U.S., selling passenger cars. We also have various projects in metros, in signaling and in renovation. So, we know this market quite well."

Mellier spoke about a meeting he had with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood where they discussed the U.S. projects. "We said we are very interested."

While there are multiple corridors, the projects would be running on various types of track at different speeds. "There are corridors, which are running at 100 miles per hour and they have to run on freight tracks. On the other hand, you have projects in Florida and in California, which are going for very high-speed, with dedicated track. We could see trains going there at 250 miles per hour," he said.

"So, we are carefully monitoring the situation. We have a business developer who is dedicated to [the high-speed rail project] activity. We have a team on the ground who is talking to the various administrations in Florida, California and so on," Mellier said, adding that the company has a network of U.S.-based suppliers, so that it complies with Buy America laws.


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