Investment gathering speed
Stadler Rail Group held up as an example to other foreign investors in Belarus
By Vladimir Khromov
Stadler Rail Group is one of the leading European manufacturers of railway rolling stock, with the company’s goods used around the world: in Australia, Austria, Algeria, Belarus, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, the USA, Finland, France, the Czech Republic and Estonia.
All possible assistance is to be provided to the Swiss company to aid the joint venture in Belarus, as President Alexander Lukashenko assured the company’s Director General, Peter Spuhler, during a recent meeting. He emphasised, “We’re ready to seriously participate in developing your business in Belarus: to make it a true Belarusian-Swiss brand. We know how to work, our machine-building industry is well-developed and your technologies can help it further — here, within Belarus, and across the whole Customs Space.”
Mr. Lukashenko believes that much has been achieved regarding co-operative development, stressing, “Our railway operator is already successfully using trains previously bought from Switzerland and which are now being produced in Belarus.” Mr. Lukashenko explained that the meeting had been arranged in order to address some urgent issues concerning the project’s implementation and strategy.
In line with previous arrangements, a factory making Belarusian-Swiss products is being built in the Dzerzhinsk District. “We’re very much interested in this, since your products being made in association with Belarus, on our territory, represent the future. A great number of customers are willing to buy them,” added the President.
Peter Spuhler thanked Mr. Lukashenko for his significant support and, seizing the occasion, congratulated Belarus on winning five gold medals at the Sochi Olympics, primarily in the biathlon. He noted that a Swiss athlete came second in one of the races where Belarusians came first and third. “With Stadler as an example, we can combine our accomplishments and become leaders, together with Switzerland,” noted the Head of State.
Mr. Spuhler informed the President about progress in constructing the factory and the administrative and manufacturing complex. In his words, the construction project is subdivided into three phases, with the first and second already active. “We’ll be manufacturing products in Fanipol by early April while the administrative building will be ready in August. Construction is moving fast with virtually no delay,” Mr. Spuhler explained, adding that 70 Belarusian specialists are currently training in Switzerland, for welding of aluminium bodies. Later, another 50 specialists will follow them, to train for employment in the final assembly phase. When manufacturing begins in April 2014, the Swiss company will also lend specialists to Belarus, in order to train the workforce in situ. “We enjoy close and promising co-operation,” stressed Mr. Spuhler.
The Director General of the Swiss company commented that the most immediate focus is fulfilling an order for double-decker trains for Russian Aeroexpress, which he believes to be ‘prestigious’. “Our company is also busy making two trains for Belarusian Railways,” Mr. Spuhler notes.
After winning a tender on March 19th, 2010, Stadler Bussnang AG signed a contract to supply ten modern electric trains to Belarusian Railways, bringing new standards of passenger service. All have now been delivered to Belarus and are in use on urban and regional lines.
Stadler Rail AG is currently implementing an investment project to manufacture railway and urban passenger electric transport, phase by phase, by building and commissioning a factory, alongside engineering and transport infrastructure. The joint venture — Electric Transport JSC — was registered in Belarus in January 2012 and renamed as Stadler Minsk JSC in November 2013. Apart from building manufacturing capacity, the company is busy taking foreign orders, primarily from Russian customers — such as the Moscow city government. The Aeroexpress project is to bring passenger transportation to the Moscow airports of Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo and Domodedovo, using an elevated railroad. The new factory in Belarus is to launch production of double-deck trains for Aeroexpress with a commission for the fourth train.