Hitachi Rail Italy

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Hitachi Rail Italy
FormerlyAnsaldoBreda (2001-2015)
TypeSocietà per Azioni
PredecessorSocietà Italiana Ernesto Breda
Founded2001 (Merger of Ansaldo Trasporti and Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie)
2015 (Acquired by Hitachi Rail)
Area served
Key people
Maurizio Manfellotto (President & CEO)
ProductsRail transport vehicles
Number of employees
ParentHitachi (2015–present)
Finmeccanica (2001–2015)
SubsidiariesHitachi Rail USA[1]

Hitachi Rail Italy S.p.A. (HRI) is a rail transport engineering company based in Italy whose main products are the design and manufacturing of railway and mass transit vehicles. Formerly AnsaldoBreda S.p.A., a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, the company was sold in 2015 to Hitachi Rail along with the 40% share of Ansaldo STS that Finmeccanica owned.[2] After the deal was finalized, the current name was adapted in November 2015 to reflect the new ownership.[3]


Breda thousandth locomotive, the FS 685.600, at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Milan

In 1853, the company Gio. Ansaldo & C. was registered in Genoa as a manufacturer of steam locomotives, rail rolling stock and steam engines. The company was supported by the Minister of Finance, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, who aimed to reduce the State of Savoy's dependence on imported trains and rolling stock.[4] Ansaldo entered the age of the steam locomotive in 1854 with its model FS113, also known as Sampierdarena.

In 1886, Ernesto Breda founded Ing. Ernesto Breda and C.,[5] the company which became Società Italiana Ernesto Breda (SIEB) in 1899. In 1908 SIEB's thousandth locomotive was built, a model FS 685 with serial number 600[5] now preserved in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan. In the 1920s, it was refitted with Caprotti valve gear.[6]

Breda (SIEB) entered the electric locomotive era in 1936 with the production of the FS Class ETR 200 series electric multiple unit. In 1939 this type set the land speed record for rail vehicles[7] at 203 km/h (126 mph).[8] Although only 18 trains of this type were constructed they remained in service for a long time until they were finally withdrawn from service in 1993.

In 1976 the FS ETR 400 entered service. Fiat Ferroviaria manufactured the body and bogies, whilst Ansaldo produced the power unit. It was the first train in the world featuring active body tilting to enter commercial service and was capable of speeds of up to 250 km/h (160 mph).

AnsaldoBreda was formed in 2001 by the merger of Ansaldo Trasporti and Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie,[9] and was part of the Finmeccanica group.[10] It has production sites at four locations in Italy: Naples, Reggio Calabria, Palermo, and Pistoia.

The TREVI Consortium, of which Ansaldo and Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie were members, introduced the high speed FS ETR 500 series in 1989.[citation needed]

AnsaldoBreda won the contract for 82 new IC4 trains for the Danish national operator DSB. However, the introduction of the units was plagued by problems, whilst the trains were scheduled to come into service in 2003, the final unit was delivered in 2013.[11] Following more train failures, DSB announced the fleet would be phased out from 2024.[12]

The first high-speed trains to run on Turkish rails were two ETR 500 train sets leased from Trenitalia of Italy and were used for testing the completed part of the high-speed railway network between Eskişehir and Ankara on April 23, 2007.[13] During the tests, ETR 500 Y2 achieved the current rail speed record in Turkey, reaching 303 km/h.[14] The train was capable of exceeding 300 km/h (190 mph). It reached 362 km/h (225 mph) in the Monte Bibele tunnel between Florence and Bologna in 2009, setting a speed record for trains in a tunnel.[15]

Another high speed train Frecciarossa 1000 high speed train was developed in a consortium with Bombardier Transportation.[16][17] The first ETR1000 was christened Mennea in honour of the Italian athlete Pietro Mennea[18] who had died five days earlier. Besides the construction of locomotives, AnsaldoBreda manufactures railway cars, trams, and trains for commuter rail, high-speed rail, and main lines.[19]

Finmeccanica and Hitachi announced on 2 November 2015 the 'closing of transactions' covering the acquisition by Hitachi of AnsaldoBreda and Finmeccanica's 40% stake in Ansaldo STS. Under the agreements signed on 24 February 2015, following a dividend distribution announced on 6 March, the purchase price for Finmeccanica's stake in Ansaldo STS has been set at €9.50 per share, amounting to a total of €761m. The total net consideration to be paid for AnsaldoBreda as a going concern, including property assets, amounts to around €30m. As a part of the deal Finmeccanica would keep the responsibility for some residual contracts.[20]

On 2 November 2015 AnsaldoBreda was sold and changed its name to Hitachi Rail Italy.[3][21][22][23][24] Since acquired by Hitachi, production of some British Rail Class 802 has been shifted to Hitachi Rail Italy's Pistoia plant due to Hitachi Rail's Newton Aycliffe, England plant being at capacity.[25]


DMU and EMU[edit]


Tram and light rail[edit]


Main operators[edit]

The ETR 500 "Frecciarossa" of the Italian Railways
The ETR "Frecciarossa 1000"





  • Sirio for Athens Tram.
  • Tri-mode trains for TrainOSE long-distance services capable of operating with electrical supply, diesel engines or onboard batteries, to be delivered from 2022.



  • multiple unit TAF Z2M for ONCF. The ONCF operates a fleet of 24 trains.[40]





AnsaldoBreda Sirio in Samsun

United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]


Washington DC Metro 4000 Series railcars[edit]

In 1991, 100 4000 Series railcars from AnsaldoBreda were delivered to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. These railcars were very similar to the older 2000s and 3000s, which Breda had also built, and featured direct current motors and analogue door controls. Unlike the 2000 and 3000 series cars, which were refurbished by Alstom between 2002 and 2005, the 4000 series cars were never rehabilitated. On July 4, 2010, after several incidents where the doors would open while the train was in motion, (a situation that WMATA techs could replicate in a rail yard) WMATA removed the fleet for repairs until July 20 of the same year. On November 17, 2016, Metro discovered an error in which a 4000-series car would display an incorrect speed limit to a train operator while in manual mode (which is the only mode used since the June 2009 Washington Metro train collision). All 4000-series cars were taken out of service in the afternoon, but were returned to service in the middle of trainsets. The cars were retired from the Metrorail system in 2017. In May 2019, after reports of door malfunctions on some 3000 series trains, the entire legacy (non-7000s) fleet was inspected overnight to make sure it would not happen again.

Delays in the delivery of IC4 trains to Denmark[edit]

Delivery of 83 IC4 trainsets for the Danish State Railways DSB was originally planned for 2003-2006. A primary settlement was reached in May 2009. Danish State Railways shall receive the uncompleted trains from AnsaldoBreda, complete the trains itself, and shall certify the trains for public usage itself. AnsaldoBreda will pay back 2.25 billion DKK (300 million Euro).[61]

On 2 July 2012, the DSB announced that the Transportation Authority had approved Denmark's railway operator to put back into operation the fleet of 37 IC4s which had been withdrawn from service in November 2011.[62]

In December 2011, it was reported that one of the missing IC4 trainsets planned for delivery in Denmark was found in Libya.[63] Reportedly, AnsaldoBreda and then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gave Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi the trainset as a present on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi's revolution in 2009.[64][65]

A secondary settlement was reached on 18 December 2012 between AnsaldoBreda and Danish railways. AnsaldoBreda would pay 98 million Euro, provide additional spare parts and upgrade the train control and management system.[citation needed]

The IC4 trains have seen many technical problems during their service. A brake failure caused a collision although the train drove at 30 km/hour over a distance of 121.5 meters.[66] Smoke required that passengers be evacuated.[67] High levels of noise in the cabins meant that modifications had to be made to all delivered trains. Recordings can be heard here. Faulty and incomplete Train Control and Management System (TCMS software) has caused researchers to deem the train unfit for service.[68] Among other things; cracks in axles, faulty sensors and a faulty generator which necessitated an evacuation. A 2014-report by Swiss firm Prose describes severe problems with the engines in the IC4 trains.[69] DSB announced in 2016 that the trains would be withdrawn from service from 2024.[12][70]

Dutch-Belgium Fyra service suspended[edit]

V250 train units were delivered to NS over five years later than originally contracted. Soon after the trains went into service in the Netherlands and Belgium, the V250 suffered a number of technical problems. When the first snow fell in the winter of 2012/13, some V250 trains started losing parts of their bottom plates due to ice build-up. Consequently, the Belgian railway company NMBS/SNCB declared the V250 unsafe, and the trains were taken out of commercial service on 16 January 2013.[71] Dutch railways subsequently was seeking compensation for damages[72] and Dutch politicians have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the problems with the V250 train quality issues and AnsaldoBreda's failure to rectify them in a timely manner. On 22 January Belgian railways called on AnsaldoBreda to fix all deficiencies that had been independently identified with the V250 units within 3 months, as agreed in the purchase contract, or the contract would be declared void.[73]

In May 2013, the Belgian railway company cancelled its contract with AnsaldoBreda, after a technical examination of a pair of V250 train halves. The inspections yielded 1159 and 2019 deficiency points, where a total of 9 per full train was the permitted tolerance before rejection. The report mentioned, amongst others, the following defects:[74][75] during a test run, an iron plate of the roof bent towards the overhead wire, axles were severely rusted, with a risk of breaking in moving trains,[76] the brakes were not suited for high-speed trains, wiring was not shielded from rain and snow, a bottom plate came loose and fell down on the railtrack, batteries overheated in carriages that had been already taken out of service, resulting in fire and subsequent scorches in the carriages, earthing points were wrongly connected, causing electric driven heavy oxidation, the door sliding mechanisms were faulty, assembly varied from train to train. On the same day the report was published, the Belgian public broadcasting organizations RTBF and VRT got hold of photographs showing the wrecked conditions the V250 trains were in.[77][78] However, because of major technical problems with these trains, the trains were taken out of rotation within weeks after the start of the service. On the 31st of May 2013, the NMBS/SNCB cancelled the Fyra project entirely.[79][80] On June 3, NS also announced it was stopping operation of V250 trains. According to their survey of the trains it would take at least 17 months to repair all construction flaws, and entry into service would not be expected before 2018.[81] In addition, even if trains were to be repaired, the maintenance cost would be much higher and the lifetime of the trains much lower than agreed in the contracts with AnsaldoBreda. It is currently unlikely that the V250 will enter commercial service again. In a response to the Dutch and Belgian complaints about damage to the trains, AnsaldoBreda blamed the operators for being irresponsible in running the trains at the certified top speed of 250 km/h in winter,[82] and not performing the recommended daily maintenance.[83] Belgian rail operators claim the latter is not true, and that the problems encountered can only be caused by structural problems with the trains.[84]

On March 17, 2014 NS announced a settlement with AnsaldoBreda had been reached. The 9 NS trains will be returned to AnsaldoBreda for a refund of 125 Million Euro, 88 Million Euro less than originally paid. NS will receive an additional compensation for each resold unit to a maximum of 21 Million Euro.[85]

The trains were bought by Trenitalia[86] in 2017 and, since 2019, have been used on the Adriatic line,[87] with part of the services at high speed. They are now known as ETR 700.[88]

Gothenburg tram[edit]

M32 tram out for a test run in August 2006.

The City of Gothenburg in Sweden has ordered 40 one-directional Sirio trams which were to be put into service on the Gothenburg tram network during 2005 and onwards. The trams were delivered late and functioned poorly when put into traffic. Among reported problems were excessive track damage caused by the trams, malfunctioning air conditioners inside the trams and poor ride quality. The City of Gothenburg therefore withheld a large part of the payment for a delivered tram until fully operational.[89] On December 3, 2009, the city authorities exercised their option for a further 25 trams of the same design at a cost of €61m.[90]

In February 2013, 38 out of the total 40 trams delivered in the first series were taken out of service due to extensive corrosion on the chassis.[91] Repairing the rusted chassis and moldy passenger floors is expected to be completed by 2017,[92] at a cost for Gothenburg council of an extra €10m according to the revised contract, although AnsaldoBreda bears the majority of the cost for these deficiencies.[citation needed] Of the 65 trams purchased, only about 35-40 are usable.[48] Due to further delays on the part of Ansaldobreda with the corrosion repairs and substandard quality in completed works, the council of Gothenburg cancelled the contract for corrosion repairs in November 2015.[48] None of the three repaired trams that AnsaldoBreda delivered was in working order and might actually be scrapped. The investigation launched into the matter found that the trams were jerry-built and that AnsaldoBreda did not have the will, nor the competence to do anything about the problems.[49] It was also discovered that the badly built trams have resulted in extensive track damage that will be very costly to repair, adding to the "fiasco" of the Gothenburg AnsaldoBreda tram affaire.[50]

After the problems had been publicised in Swedish media, AnsaldoBreda chairman Antonio Liguori sent a letter to Gothenburg Municipality which contained threats of concerted actions with other companies against the municipality, along with demands of 10 million euro.[93]

The 31 August the tribunal closed the arbitration see Klart: 120 miljoner för skandalvagnar

Oslo tram[edit]

The 32 two-directional trams delivered for Oslo from 1999, called SL95, have met several difficulties with rust during snowy weather and the heavy weight requires a lot of maintenance to streets and tracks, which make the trams expensive to operate.[94][95] They are also considered to create more noise than necessary. The replacement of the trams will start in 2020 and the last trams will be taken out of service in 2024.[96][97]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Giovanni Cornolò, Una leggenda che corre. Breve storia dell'elettrotreno e dei suoi primati. ETR.200 - ETR.220 - ETR 240, 2. ed., Salò, Editrice Trasporti su Rotaie, 1990, ISBN 88-85068-23-5
  • Stefano Garzaro, Angelo Nascimbene, FS-Italia. Elettrotreno ETR 400 "Pendolino", collana Monografie ferroviarie n. 6, Torino, Edizioni Elledi, 1982

External links[edit]

Media related to Hitachi Rail Italy at Wikimedia Commons