Dutch agree to return Italian high-speed trains

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The Ansaldobreda mechanical manufacturing plant in Naples. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP
09:13 CET+01:00
Dutch national railways announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with Italian train builder AnsaldoBreda to return engines and carriages after a deal for high-speed trains dramatically ran off the rails last year.

"We have reached a financial agreement with AnsaldoBreda... which means that they'll pay back €125 million ($174 million) and the trains in the Netherlands will be sent back to them," Dutch rail (NS) spokesman Eric Trinthamer told AFP.

The agreement comes after a year of haggling by Dutch authorities and AnsoldoBreda over some 16 ill-fated Fyras, or V250 high-speed trains which were put into service in December 2009.

Launched with great fanfare, the NS pulled the plug on the project barely a month later after a raft of technical malfunctions and problems delayed departures.

A lengthy investigation followed and in June the NS said it wanted to get rid of the Fyra, made by Pistoia-based AnsaldoBreda, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica.

Trinthamer said according to the deal AnsaldoBreda will now have an opportunity to re-sell the Fyra to other customers.

"In case that happens, NS will then receive a further amount which could run up to a maximum of €21 million," Trinthamer said.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported that the NS faced a loss of €88 million, which may partly be recuperated should the Fyras be sold to a third party.

It was not yet clear when the trains, which are currently parked outside Amsterdam, will be taken back to Italy.

In the meantime, the gap for a Dutch high-speed service has been filled by Thalys which runs between Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, Trinthamer said.

Eurostar was also planning a daily connection between Amsterdam and London by the end of 2016, he added.

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Plans for  a high-speed rail from the French city of Lyon with Turin, in north-west Italy, are also underway although have faced strong opposition from local residents in Italy. The €26 billion project is due to cut the journey time between Milan and Paris from seven to four hours.

READ MORE: Italian police clash with anti-train protesters

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