Astra Automobile & Waggon Factory
The ASTRA Automobile & Waggon Factory in Arad, Romania, was between 1891-1918 an Austro-Hungarian manufacturer of vehicles (as Johann Weitzer’sche Maschinen-Waggonfabrik), and between 1921-1998, as ASTRA Arad, a Romanian manufacturer of railroad cars. After 1998, the company split into two main independent companies, one for freight cars, integrated later in Astra Rail Industries, and one for passenger coaches, as Astra Vagoane Călători.
Johann Weitzer’sche Maschinen-Waggonfabrik
Johann Weitzer (born in 1832, died in 1902) was an Austrian skilled blacksmith and businessman. In 1854, he founded his own workshop, which expanded quickly, even producing vehicles for the construction of the Suez Canal. The main products were railway waggons and arms for Austrian use. In 1872, he transformed his enterprise into a joint-stock company, which later merged with two other companies to Simmering-Graz-Pauker.
In 1891, Johann Weitzer founded, as a subsidiary of the Austrian company in the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary, the Johann Weitzer’sche Maschinen-Waggonfabrik und Eisengiesserei Actien-Gesellschaft (John Weitzer Engine- & Waggon-building & Iron Casting Joint-stock Company). It produced locomotives, railway waggons, tramcars (such as 17 items for Temesvár/Timișoara), and, since 1903, Weitzer railmotor, Europe's first successful series of railcars.
The automobiles manufactured in Arad was a licensed production of Westinghouse 150 cars from 1909 to 1912. In 1912 the plant was taken over by Austro-Daimler and renamed to MARTA, the acronym for Magyar Automobil Részvény Társaság Arad (Hungarian Automobile Joint-stock Company Arad). After the edition auf 500 automobiles, civil production ceased in 1914, due to World War I.
Weitzer Railmotor at the ACsEV
In 1921, after the dissolution of the Austria-Hungary and the Union of Transylvania with Romania, the two companies, now located in Romania, merged to form ASTRA Automobile & Waggon factory (Romanian: Fabrica de automobile și vagoane Astra). This company from 1922 to 1926 also manufactured some automobiles and lorries, but the main production were rail vehicles.
After World War II, the company was nationalized and became Europe's biggest manufacturer of freight cars, as Întreprinderea de Vagoane Arad (IVA). The factory also produced passenger coaches and ensured the entire fleet of coaches for Bucharest Metro. It produced railcars for internal market and exported to all five continents.
In 1990, the company was renamed as ASTRA Vagoane Arad. With privatization, in 1998-2000, it was split into specialists for the various branches. The production of freight cars, Astra Vagoane Arad, was sold to Trinity Industries, which sold it to International Railway Systems (IRS), seated in Luxemburg, but mainly based on plants in eastern Europe. In November 2010, Astra Vagoane Arad and the two other Romanian subsidiaries of IRS went bankrupt, and reformed under the name Astra Rail Industries (ARI) in 2012. In 2016, The Greenbrier Companies and ARI agreed to form a joint venture, 75% owned by Greenbrier. The new business is to be named Greenbrier-Astra Rail.
- "Johann Weitzer". City of Graz (in German).
- "Arader Zeitung" (PDF) (in German). 1 May 1921. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-03-25. (note in German on the merging of Weitzer and MARTA)
- Georgano 1982, p. 59.
- The history of ASTRA Vagoane Călători
- "International Railway Systems (IRS) übernimmt Europageschäft von Trinity" [Astra Vagoane Arad taken over by IRS]. Eurailpress (in German). 1 August 2006.
- "Note on the insolvence of the Romanian subsidiaries of IRS". debizz (in German). Archived from the original on July 6, 2013.
- The history of Astra Rail Industries
- Un grup american cumpara 75% din actiunile companiei care detine fabrica de vagoane de la Arad (in Romanian)
- "SC Astra Vagoane Călători SA". Iris Certification.
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