SIEMENS Transportation Systems presented its half-year financial results at its annual press conference on May 17. Group President Herbert Steffen said the results for the six months to March 2001 were already better than for the whole of last year.

Due to stock market rules, definitive financial data was not available; this will be published in July. Earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (Ebita) for the first half-year rose to €79m, from €10m for the same period last year. The Ebita margin is currently 4·1%, and Siemens is well on the way to meeting an interim target of 5% to 7%. New orders in the first half-year rose by 33% and sales by 8% to reach €2·3bn and €1·9bn respectively. Recent large orders from Spain and the £1bn Desiro order for Britain are not included in the figures.

Sales in Asia have increased almost sixfold since 1998, and the company is focusing on outstripping market growth in Asia and America. It is hoping for a 30% increase in service business. Siemens is also expecting growth in the US passenger train market, as shortages of landing slots for short-distance flights become more acute.

Asked about the Bombardier/Adtranz merger, Steffen said Siemens is ’not underestimating’ the competition. In the current financial year Siemens is aiming to be number two in the rolling stock market. He stressed the company is viewing figures over the medium term, rather than year-on-year, as the long lead times of orders in the railway industry can distort yearly figures depending on the precise date an order is signed. He added ’it only makes sense to aim for size if you can turn it into competitiveness and economies of scale’.

Hans Schabert, Vice President, Rolling Stock, at Siemens Transportation Systems, said he did not expect the Spanish ICE contract to put at risk plans for a joint Alstom-Siemens cross-border high-speed train, as Spain was explicitly not part of the joint agreement. A prototype European train could be produced by 2006, but orders are not expected before 2008, with the first train operational in 2010.

The company is committed to modular platforms for its products, believing this will lower costs and improve productivity. It is anticipated that the future number of employees will be more or less constant, but with increasing demand for graduate engineers rather than blue collar staff.