AS PART of a three-year strategic plan announced last year, Chief Executive of Italian State Railways Giancarlo Cimoli is planning to change the way FS treats its suppliers. Head of procurement Mauro Moretti says standard contracts will be agreed, and the fragmentary approach to purchase of spares will give way to block orders. FS will move towards simple and standardised components, including bogies and air-conditioning, and new components will be expected to perform more reliably and last longer.

All this should help push costs down. Judging by a tale of screws now costing 12lire instead of 1200lire, drastic savings are in prospect. FS says it is committed to take the best offer on the international market - a move partly forced on it by falling government support and partly by EU rules. Moretti rightly believes that trains should be delivered in a condition that allows them to haul commercial traffic and not have to undergo numerous modifications after they have entered service. In return, he promises a more open procurement procedure, with ’clarity’ in contracts and tenders, which will be published in good time in the EU Official Journal. FS will now adopt the European standard for payment of 30 to 60 days instead of anything up to six months.

Just how this will be received by Italian industry, unions and other parties is far from clear, but Cimoli wants costs down by 30% in three years. His strategic plan will see FS pull out of non-core activities, with 10000 jobs disappearing. FS staff will get standard contracts, and around 10% of local passenger services may be withdrawn. Better productivity will save 2500bnlire, and other cost reductions a further 2500bnlire.

  • Eight out of nine coaches of an ETR460 Pendolino set derailed on January 12 as it approached Piacenza on a curve at around 160 km/h. The Milano - Roma Botticelli was carrying about 200 passengers, three of whom were killed, along with both drivers, two members of the Italian railway police and a stewardess; all were travelling in the leading car. The speed limit for Pendolino trains on the curve was 105 km/h. o