POLAND: A letter of intent for the joint production of wagons in Szczecin was signed by freight operator PKP Cargo and rolling stock manufacturer Greenbrier Europe Wagony Świdnica on July 1. PKP Cargo is to invest 11·5m złoty to start production at the Szczecin wagon repair workshops which are operated by its PKP Cargotabor rolling stock business. Greenbrier would contribute technology, documentation, quality control standards and production equipment. Production is planned to begin in the first quarter of 2016 with a capacity of up to 500 wagons a year of various types. Around 150 people would be employed, including current PKP Cargo staff and new recruits.PKP Cargo said it had undertaken detailed analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the project before seeking an experienced manufacturing partner. It expects to be able to produce wagons more cheaply than procuring them from external manufacturers, while making the most of its workshop facilities and staff.Many of PKP Cargo’s 61 500 wagons are more than 25 years old, and the company is planning to renew its fleet over the next 10 years ‘By partnering with a world-class manufacturer of rolling stock, we can have access to the latest wagon production technologies’, said Head of Operations Wojciech Derda. ‘After the consolidation of operations and the introduction of modern management methods, this is another step in the development of PKP Cargotabor.’ In 2010 PKP Cargo and CNR subsidiary Jinan Railway Vehicles formed a joint venture which planned to assemble kits of Chinese-made wagon parts in Szczecin, estimating that using Chinese components could be 30% cheaper than local manufacturing. However, studies and the trial assembly of three wagons concluded it would not be economically feasible, with the cost of transport and rising wages in China meaning it would hard to compete with the Polish domestic industry.
ITALY: The weekend of May 20-21 saw two bridges replaced on the Bologna – Rimini line at Prati and Sabbioso as part of infrastructure manager RFI’s ongoing route modernisation programme on the Adriatic Corridor.Running for three years from 2015, the upgrading works cover the north-south line between Bologna and Lecce via Rimini and Bari. RFI is spending approximately €120m on the project, which includes 10 bridge renewals between Rimini and Bologna as well as signalling and line speed improvements.Substantial investment in stations is also planned under RFI’s ‘500 stations’ programme; 40 of these are in the Emilia-Romagna region. On the Bologna – Lecce route, stations are to be refurbished at Imola, Cesena, Rimini, Forlì, Castel San Pietro Terme, Castelbolognese and Faenza. Platform heights will be standardised at 550 mm to allow step-free access, and audio-visual information systems are to be enhanced. Most recently, work has started at Castelbolognese to develop a multi-modal hub. Once the route modernisation is completed, journey times are to be reduced along the corridor. Bologna – Rimini trains will be accelerated by 8 min, Bologna – Bari by 45 min Bologna – Lecce by 60 min.