Alstom seals 800-mn-euro train deal with Dutch rail

Alstom seals 800-mn-euro train deal with Dutch rail :The Dutch national rail authority concluded an 800-million-euro deal Friday with French transport giant Alstom (LSE: 0J2R.L – news) to buy 79 new high-speed trains, set to go into service by 2021.

“Dutch Rail and Alstom have concluded a contract for delivery of 79 high speed Intercity trains capable of a speed of 200 km/h (120 miles per hour),” Dutch Rail (NS) said in a statement.

“The value of the contract is worth more than 800 million euros ($885 million), the statement said, adding the new trains will put 25,000 new seats on the lowlands country’s extensive rail network.

The new trains are based on Alstom’s “Coradia-design” of which 2,400 trains have already been sold to customers in other countries.

Service is scheduled to start on the line between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the southern city of Breda in 2021.

“Alstom is the best fit for Dutch spending requirements,” the Dutch rail operator said.

The new trains will be fitted out with the latest technology including wifi, television screens beaming travel information, power and USB connections and intelligent LED lighting.

Friday’s announcement comes after German train builder Siemens (BSE: SIEMENS4.BO – news) lost a court appeal against the tender in which NS named Alstom as the preferred bidder, NS said.

It also comes after the Dutch government ran into severe criticism last year for failing to put passengers first in a debacle over a short-lived high speed train deal with Italian train builder AnsaldoBreda.

At least 19 Fyra trains, supplied by AnsaldoBreda at a cost of some 20 million euros each, were meant to rival the high-speed link between the two capitals already provided by Thalys, a joint Belgian-French-Dutch-German venture.

When the link began to be put into operation by NS and its Belgian partner SNCB in December 2012, the line was also supposed to replace slower trains operated by NS between the two cities.

But the SNCB at the time said a probe had shown that the V250, the Fyra’s official name, was “completely unreliable” with reports of bad software and train parts falling off.

NS pulled the plug on the project barely five months later after a raft of technical malfunctions and problems delayed departures.

The debacle led to the resignation of Dutch infrastructure minister Wilma Mansveld hours after the publication of a damning inquiry in October last year.

“Alstom offers our travellers proven technology and a train that’s ready for the future,” NS director Roel Okhuijsen said.

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