ITALIAN RAILWAYS’ rolling stock maintenance arm UTMR - now a Trenitalia subsidiary - is offering a range of refurbished coaches to railways in eastern Europe. The basis for the conversions are UIC-standard Type X vehicles dating from the early 1970s which have been replaced on Italian domestic inter-city services by ETR500 and Pendolino trainsets.

With its headquarters in Firenze and 13 workshops across Italy, Unità Tecnologie Materiale Rotabile was set up as a commercial business during 2000. The unit has already refurbished several batches of Type X vehicles for further use by Trenitalia. The company is currently converting large numbers of seats cars into couchette coaches for overnight trains. Around 30 day coaches have been remodelled for inter-regional services, and more are programmed. A further batch has been rebuilt into dedicated push-pull sets with extra luggage space for the Roma - Fiumicino Airport shuttles.

According to UTMR Commercial Director Dr Silvio Balsamo, the level of work can vary, as each custom conversion is dependent on the cost and comfort specifications. The basic refurbishment includes asbestos removal, repairs to the steel bodyshell, and the fitting of a completely new interior and toilet compartments meeting current specifications. New windows and doors are standard, with optional air-conditioning or heating and ventilation systems. Refurbished coaches can be equipped with new or reconditioned bogies. Balsamo says the finished coaches are ’better than new’ at less than half the cost of a new vehicle.

With the European passenger market to be deregulated over the next few years, UTMR is currently investigating the possibility of developing a lease fleet for use by national operators or new open access companies. This would probably be financed in conjunction with an established rolling stock leasing company, as Balsamo suggests Trenitalia is ’not looking to become a bank’.

Several rolling stock companies and regional operators in northern Europe have expressed interest in a prototype Aln668 diesel railcar recently refurbished by UTMR. The 20-year old vehicle has been fitted with a modernised interior and a new and more powerful diesel engine. Trenitalia’s Regional Services business is currently considering whether to order a series build.

  • UTMR has been appointed to manage the sale to MAV of the 25 surplus Class E491 and E492 locos built in the early 1980s for the aborted 25 kV electrification in Sardinia. One unit has been modified for operation in Hungary, and has already completed 50000 km of test running.