SWITZERLAND: Rolling stock manufacturer Stadler confirmed on April 4 that it was evaluating options to replace its Altenrhein site with a new plant at nearby St Margrethen. The new facility would be optimised for the production of Kiss double-deck vehicles, unlike the current leased facility at Altenrhein, which Stadler said was out of date, limiting its international competitiveness.

A large share of Stadler’s output is for export, and the company said it needs to improve efficiency in response to the pressure on its margins resulting from exchange rates and high wages. The proposed investment in a new plant would be ‘a clear commitment to Switzerland as a business location’, it said. The corporate headquarters in Bussnang, bogie plant in Winterthur and commissioning centre in Erlen would not be affected.

Stadler has worked with the canton of St Gallen and St Margrethen municipality to identified a suitable 70 000 m2 site with a rail connection. It has reached a building rights agreement with landowner HIAG Immobilien which runs to December 31 2080 with the possibility of renewal, although this depends on the site being rezoned for industrial use, which has been applied for.

The current Altenrhein plant was founded in 1924 as Dornier-Werke Altenrhein, with an airfield opening in 1927. Rolling stock production under the FFA brand began in 1949. In 1987 the works was sold to Schindler Holding, and Stadler took it over in 1997. There are now around 950 employees and 49 000 m2 of production and storage space at the site, including the engineering department with 250 employees providing specialist services for the entire group.