GERMANY: Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler has raised concerns about the potential for industrial espionage after Go-Ahead awarded the international subsidiary of Transmashholding a contract to maintain a fleet of electric multiple-units ordered for use on E-Netz Allgäu services in Bayern.
Stadler is worried that its technical know-how and trade secrets could fall into the hands of a Russian competitor which is expanding into the international market.
Go-Ahead said Stadler had declined to hand over documentation for the Flirt3 EMUs; the German subsidiary of the UK-based transport operating group is therefore considering alternative rolling stock options in case an agreement cannot be reached which would allow the trains to enter service this December.
In August 2018 the Länder of Bayern and Baden-Württemberg jointly selected Go-Ahead Deutschland as the winner of the E-Netz Allgäu operating contract. This runs for 12 years from December 2021, covering passenger services totalling 2·6 million train-km/year on the München – Memmingen – Lindau route, which is currently operated by DB.
The services are due to be provided using a fleet of 22 four-car Flirt3 electric multiple-units, which were ordered from Stadler in a ‘low three-figure million’ euro contract signed during the InnoTrans trade fair in September 2018.
In December 2020 Go-Ahead awarded TMH International a contract to maintain the Flirt3 fleet, along with 44 Mireo and 12 Desiro HC EMUs ordered from Siemens Mobility for use on the separate Augsburger Netze Lot 1 operating contract which starts in December 2022. Based in Switzerland, the Transmashholding subsidiary undertakes projects outside Russia.
The 78 EMUs are due to be maintained at a new depot in Langweid bei Augsburg. Go-Ahead obtained planning approval for the facility and transferred the site to TMHI. The maintainer will initially lease premises in Augsburg from DB until the new depot is completed.
Stadler told Railway Gazette International on May 7 that because TMHI was active in rolling stock development, production and maintenance, it believed that Go-Ahead had not met a contractual condition which prohibits maintenance being subcontracted to a competitor.
Go-Ahead said third-party maintenance contracts were common in the rail industry, and it was ‘incomprehensible’ that Stadler did not want to hand over the documentation.
Stadler agreed that third-party maintenance was widely used in Germany, but said the work should be undertaken by companies which were not also active in the development and manufacturing of trains.
TMHI said it had won the contract with a competitive offer based on ‘long and comprehensive expertise and experience in the international maintenance business’. It said the €40m maintenance facility in Langweid would be one of the most modern depots in the world, ‘where the know-how from more than 100 depots worldwide will be bundled’, making it possible to maintain all types of rolling stock independently from the manufacturer.
On May 6 Patrick Verwer, CEO of Go-Ahead in Germany, said ‘we very much regret that it was not possible to reach an agreement with Stadler’. He added that Go-Ahead was ready for further discussions in order to ensure that the Stadler EMUs would be available by the start of the operating contract in December, but was also planning alternative options.
TMHI told Railway Gazette International that ‘as independent, internationally experienced and Europe’s largest maintenance service provider’, it was ‘flexible and prepared if needed to also take over the maintenance and repair of a replacement fleet’, to ensure E-Netz Allgäu services can start without any problems in December 2021.
Stadler said the EMUs would be manufactured in accordance with the contract, adding that Germany’s Federal Railway Authority had already granted approval for their operation. The company felt it was ‘incomprehensible’ that Go-Ahead was considering alternative rolling stock options, and if it did so the risk would lie entirely with the operator.
Stadler said it was ‘still ready for talks and hopes to quickly reach an agreement on the discrepancies’.