AUSTRIA: Plans to replace ÖBB’s rolling stock used on daytime inter-city services to Italy and to update its overnight fleet with new trains are in doubt after Austria’s Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) ruled that the tender process should be stopped.

The state-owned operator requires new stock to replace existing EuroCity coaches that will not meet revised fire safety regulations in Italy after 2021. Bids were invited for around 160 coaches to form eight daytime and 13 overnight trainsets. The tender included a number of driving trailer coaches and ‘multi-function’ cars with a low-floor section, while the 26 m long vehicles had to be able to run at up to 200 km/h in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

Bombardier and Siemens are both understood to have prepared responses after the initial call for tenders. Siemens is reported to have offered a derivative of the Viaggio design used in ÖBB’s Railjet trainsets with steel bodyshells, while Bombardier is believed to have proposed a vehicle with aluminium construction.

Austrian media reported that Siemens had complained to ÖBB in August that changes had been made to the specification at a late stage in the process, alleging that these favoured its rival. The changes included alterations to the specification for the bodyshell, the power supply for onboard electrical equipment and the use of inside or outside bearings for the wheelsets.

The tendering process was suspended last month, and following the court’s ruling ÖBB is unable to proceed with the procurement as originally envisaged.