Finmeccanica settles row over faulty Belgian trains

Italian industrial giant Finmeccanica said on Monday it was paying €2.5 million ($3.5 million) to Belgium's national railway to avoid being sued over a now-cancelled order of faulty high-speed trains.

Finmeccanica settles row over faulty Belgian trains
The Ansaldobreda mechanical manufacturing plant in Naples. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

"The Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB), AnsaldoBreda and its controlling company Finmeccanica have settled their discord," Finmeccanica said in a statement.

"The settlement was reached from the advantages both parties see in preventing lengthy legal proceedings."

The Belgian railway company had claimed €27 million from AnsaldoBreda after being forced to cancel its order for 19 high-speed trains — known as the V250 — designed to connect Brussels and Amsterdam.

The link was launched to much fanfare in 2013 but had to be aborted just five months later after serious technical faults in the trains emerged.

Dutch and Belgian railways had ordered a total of 19 trains from AnsaldoBreda for €20 million.

"The agreement will allow AnsaldoBreda to exploit the possibility of selling trains to other customers and with some customizations make them fit for other requirements and needs of such customers.

"As part of the agreement both parties will refrain from making financial claims, including supposed damages on both sides," Finmeccanica said.

Finmeccanica earlier settled with the Dutch railway.

READ MORE: Dutch agree to return Italian high-speed trains

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UPDATE: Cross-border train service between Switzerland and Italy to continue running

Despite an earlier announcement that Switzerland and Italy will halt rail services between the two countries, they are set to continue.

UPDATE: Cross-border train service between Switzerland and Italy to continue running

The two neighbouring countries said on Monday that all cross-border rail traffic would be suspended indefinitely because train personnel do not have capacity to carry out COVID-19 safety checks.

However, representatives of both nations agreed on Wednesday on the need to ensure the continuity of passenger transport between the two countries.

Following discussions between the Italian Minister of Transport Paola De Micheli and her Swiss counterpart, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga, who also heads Switzerland’s Transport Ministry, “it was decided that the EuroCity services would be maintained, but to a limited extent”, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said. 

Concretely, from December 10th, 2020, two EuroCity trains will run on the Gotthard axis, and two on the Simplon axis.

From December 13th, when the new SBB timetable comes into effect, two pairs of EuroCity trains will run on the Gotthard axis and two pairs on the Simplon axis.

  • EC 313 dp. Zurich 07:10, arr. Milan 10:50 am
  • EC 316 dp Milan 11:10, arr. Zurich 2:50 p.m.
  • EC 34 dp Milan 13:05, arr. Geneva 5:21 p.m.
  • EC 37 dp Geneva 07:39, arr. Milan 11:40 am
  • EC 50 dp Milan 07:20, arr. Basel 11:32 am
  • EC 57 dp Basel 12:28, arr. Milan 4:40 p.m.

Checks will be carried out at the border posts in Chiasso and Domodossola by the staff of the Italian railways.

READ MORE: MAP: Return of night trains across Europe comes a step closer 

Regional traffic

The situation related to regional TILO trains, which connect Ticino with the Italian region of Lombardy, and transport border workers between the two countries, will be more complicated.

The large number of stations along the line does not allow border checks to be carried out in the same way as on EuroCity trains. 

SBB said that from December 10th Italian regional trains will run to the Chiasso station, where passengers will be checked and then change trains and continue their journey on TILO trains.

In order to gradually restore links between Switzerland and Italy, SBB and TILO are awaiting confirmation from the Italian authorities of the adaptation of the decree which, following discussions between the parties, exempts the railways from the responsibility of border checks.