French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has already had to pay 80 million euros in fines for delays in delivering M7 carriages to Belgium’s public railway company NMBS/SNCB. This was what Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) told the Parliamentary Committee on Mobility this week.
In 2015, Alstom and NMBS/SCNB signed a framework agreement to deliver up to 1 362 M7 carriages. In the first instance, 747 of these were effectively ordered. In December 2021, NMBS/SNCB ordered 98 additional M7 double-deck vehicles from the French train manufacturer.
The first concrete order included 445 carriages for 1,3 billion euros, to be delivered between September 2018 and December 2021. After that, however, delivery was severely delayed. By the end of last year, only 222 of the 445 carriages had been delivered.
Since it was contractually concluded that fines had to be paid in case of late delivery, Alstom had already paid 80 million euros in fines in the meantime, Gilkinet said.
According to the minister, these delivery delays could also affect train punctuality and passenger comfort because it forces NMBS/SNCB to keep older trains in service for longer. This is because they break down more often and no longer meet today’s requirements in terms of accessibility and comfort.
Last delivery is foreseen for 2026
Alstom acknowledges the delays. “Several external factors, including Covid-19, delays by some suppliers, and a shortage of parts, have seriously affected the delivery schedule,” says Sonia Thibaut, communications director at Alstom, in a reaction to press agency Belga.
“The average delivery pace has increased significantly since the beginning of 2022,” she adds. “Our teams have been mobilized, and we are working closely with NMBS/SNCB to enable rapid integration of this new comfortable rolling stock into their commercial service.”
The hope is that Alstom will deliver all the M7s ordered by the end of 2026.
NMBS/SNCB has also placed an order with Alstom for 50 locomotives. The first order of 24 units represents a €120 million investment. Delivery of the first vehicles would normally start in 2026.
The M7 double-deck coaches are developed at Alstom’s Valenciennes plant and assembled at their Bruges plant, formerly Bombardier, among other places. In addition, Alstom’s excellence center in Charleroi supplies the traction system and the national and European signaling systems.
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