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Passenger rail-car market shows signs of growth, ALSTOM says

New Jersey Transit recently exercised an option with ALSTOM Transport to increase its push-pull commuter car order from 135 to 265 — 65 of which are destined for New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North Railroad. The original contract was signed in November 1999, and ALSTOM currently is delivering the Comet V cars.

This option comes hot on the heels of a $129 million contract ALSTOM inked June 20 with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for 62 subway cars, and a $961 million deal awarded July 31 with New York City Transit to supply 660 subway cars.

ALSTOM is sharing the NYCT order with Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., which designed the agency’s existing cars. Kawasaki will provide ALSTOM with its design drawings and build a portion of the cars. ALSTOM will build the majority of the cars and provide propulsion systems for all its cars and 50 percent of those built by Kawasaki, as well as provide project management. Options could increase the total number of cars to 1,700; deliveries of the base order are scheduled to take place in 2006 through 2007.

And the passenger rail-car market shows little signs of slowing down, says Stephan Rambaud-Measson, ALSTOM Transport senior vice president, rolling stock Americas.

"The market in the next 18 months will have quite a number of opportunities," he says.

Those opportunities include bids yet to be awarded at Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Chicago Transit Authority and New Jersey Transit.

If ALSTOM were to win most of those outstanding bids, the company would have to increase capacity at its Hornell, N.Y., facility — likely by building an additional line.

Clearly, the U.S. recession hasn’t affected ALSTOM, which this year has tallied more than $1.4 billion in orders, says Rambaud-Measson. Annual U.S sales typically come in around $450 million to $500 million, but that might increase 30 percent to 40 percent in the next two to three years as orders materialize into sales.

"We are moving from a position from being an outsider two to three years ago to being a leader in this market," says Rambaud-Measson, adding that ALSTOM also continues to be very active in rail-car renovations, which remains a strong business segment for the Paris-based company.

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/14/2002