Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The French have a High-Speed Rail business plan. We don't.

There have been several blog postings here today, four or five I think.  The milk of search-engine kindness has been productive, so be sure to scroll down to see the ones you haven't yet read.

There's been a huge amount of chatter about the new business plan from the California High-Speed Rail Authority.  It's really only a business plan because they are "giving us the business!"  

We've said this before. What the rail authority is producing, over and over again, is NOT a business plan.

As the article below tells us, the French are in the high-speed rail business; they build them, construct the infrastructure, operate them and make money both privately and receive permanent government subsidies. They make money installing HSR systems overseas. 

Although their only route that actually breaks even is the Paris/Dijon line, the French have a high-speed rail industrial base because they have an active passenger rail base. That, then becomes a source of industry and a business.

We have neither a comprehensive passenger rail infrastructure nor an industrial base. (What's that you say, Amtrak?  Amtrak is what the successful Class 1 carriers threw away and Congress scraped them together into this Amtrak government money loser.) 

And, instead of starting at the bottom, we are trying to start at the top, without either a passenger rail system, without a rail transit culture and market, and without an industrial base.

How smart a business decision is that?

Which is to say, the rail authority has no business plan because we, in the US, have no high-speed rail business.  What we are getting from "our" rail authority is a government spending plan.  That's a train of a different color.  

They should stop calling it a business plan; it's misleading. What one might call this outrageous waste of money is a "start-up."  And, judging by other failed start-ups (and there are many!), this one is self-flushing itself down the toilet.

Alstom to make high speed trains for SNCF
India Blooms News Service

Patrick Kron, Chairman and CEO of Alstom, announced SNCF’s signing of the contract option for 40 additional double-deck Euroduplex very high speed trains on Friday.

Taking into account a possible cancellation of 10 trains, Alstom booked an order corresponding to 30 train sets in the last quarter of the 2011/12 fiscal year, for a value of around €900 million. 

This new order is included in the framework of the contract placed with Alstom by SNCF on 27 June 2007. 

The 40 trains are in addition to the firm tranche of 55 Euroduplex train sets currently under construction, the first of which entered commercial service on 11 December 2011 on the new Rhine-Rhône high speed line and the last units being delivered mid-2015.

The additional train sets will be delivered from 2015. 

Their manufacture will contribute to the workload of Alstom Transport’s La Rochelle site which builds the passenger cars as well as the workload of other sites in France: Belfort (locomotives), Reichshoffen (end cars), Le Creusot (bogies), Ornans (traction systems), Le Petit Quevilly (locomotive transformers), Tarbes (electrical units and traction equipment) and Villeurbanne (electronic control systems). 

Charleroi (Belgium) for auxiliary inverters and Montreal (Canada) for passenger information systems are also part of the manufacturing scheme, said the company. 

A total of 1,500 people on these sites work each day on high speed rail transport projects at Alstom. 

The main French suppliers for this project are Faiveley Transport, Logitrade, COMECA, CEIT, TFCM and Association Bretagne Atelier. Together with the other small to medium sized companies involved in the French rail industry, they employ 6,000 people in France.

Intended for use on the French, German, Swiss and Luxembourg networks, the Euroduplex trains contain signalling equipment which is compatible with all European networks. They are equipped with traction systems adapted to the different electric currents used across Europe. 

Some of these train sets can also run in Spain. Benefiting from Alstom’s unique and long experience in the very high speed rail market, Euroduplex trains offer the best operating costs per corridor and the highest return per seat.

With the taking-up of this option, Patrick Kron announced that Alstom has proposed to end its legal process in the London High Court, opened to contest the call for tender launched in 2009 by Eurostar to renew its fleet.

No comments: