CHINA: Tong Hao Railway Vehicles Corp has been established as a joint venture of state-owned China Railway Signal & Communication Corp (66%), Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group Corp (17%) and Czech company Inekon Group (17%) with the aim of producing low-floor trams for the Chinese market.

The joint venture is developing a prototype Superior Plus tram, with Inekon preparing the documentation and supervising production. The 100% low-floor trams would be 34 m long, with options for one or two cabs and on-board energy storage for off-wire operation. They would use mostly Chinese components, but doors, air-conditioning and electronics would be supplied from the Czech Republic.

The joint venture has completed a factory at Changsha with capacity to assemble up to 500 trams a year, and expects to submit its first tender for the supply of 25 trams during September. It envisages sales of up to €1bn.

The Chinese market offers ‘enormous potential not only for sales, but also the possibility of production at a lower cost’, according to Inekon Group founder and CEO Josef Hušek, who said CRSC is a ‘strong partner’, able to help with financing. ‘China is now experiencing a major boom and transformation in rail travel, which Inekon wants to be a part of. There are 80 cities with a population exceeding 5 million, meaning there is huge potential to supply trams.’

  • On July 23 CRSC announced an agreement to buy a 51% stake in Inekon Group from Hušek for an undisclosed price. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, with Hušek remaining as CEO and CRSR appointing the chairman of the management board and the finance director.