A RATHER different tale involves a contract for 16 diesel railcars for Finnish State Railways. The contract was won by GEC Alsthom Transporte of Spain, which duly shipped the first car to Helsinki for evaluation and tests. It turned out to be too heavy, although we are told that performance was acceptable.

What was not acceptable was the interior noise level at 120 km/h. Despite an offer from the supplier to carry out modifications, VR cancelled the contract in December and invited new expressions of interest. Following a ’satisfactory’ response, new tender documents were sent out and bids are due shortly; VR hopes to place another contract by the end of this year.

What happens to the 16 railcars - of which six are still in Finland - is ’entirely up to GEC Alsthom’, according to VR, although the railway suggests others ’may find them acceptable at lower speeds’. One possibility is that the 1524mm gauge vehicles may end up in the Baltic states, where no doubt the passengers would be delighted to ride in them, noisy or not. o