FRANCE: Wagon supplier Arbel Fauvet Rail expects to return to profit this year. Since acquisition by investment company IGF Care in January 2007, the renamed IGF Industries-AFR has reaped benefits from investment totalling €20m. This year's order book stands at 850 wagons, and next year the company hopes to deliver up to 1 100.

Basing its strategy on specialist products such as tank cars and hoppers, the company is supplying a reviving market buoyed up by the arrival of new entrants such as Colas Rail and Euro Cargo Rail. Colas Rail has placed orders for 220 bogie hoppers and ECR is buying 150. Market demand in Europe is estimated at 12 000 to 18 000 wagons a year.

AFR's own design office has developed a prototype pocket wagon for semi-trailers, and confirmation of an order for 50 is expected in the middle of this year from Novatrans and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region. Another new design is a high-capacity articulated vehicle with five hoppers mounted on two single axles and four intermediate bogies; the first of these left the Douai factory on February 5 for testing before delivery to an unnamed customer. Both new wagons are mounted on AFR22 bogies able to run at 120 km/h with a 22·5 tonne axleload.

Production is due to be stepped up to four wagons a day by the end of March.

  • CAPTION: New designs developed by AFR include a prototype pocket wagon for semi-trailers.