Stadler gains momentum
Stadler Rail Group is making a significant contribution to the development of relations between Belarus and Switzerland, noted President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on meeting the company’s CEO, Peter Spuhler
By Vladimir Khromov
He praised the latest joint investment project, which is producing Stadler passenger rail and urban electric transport in Belarus, in liaison with Belkommunmash over the next four years.
“I didn’t expect us to so quickly agree and I’m surprised at your urgency to launch production in Belarus. We’ll make sure that we promptly solve all issues set up before the Belarusian side,” stressed the Head of State, emphasising that the trains and rolling stock produced will fulfil domestic needs and allow export.
Mr. Lukashenko notes the importance of the Stadler Rail Group, which is a leading European manufacturer of railway rolling stock, with goods sold within Europe and the USA. Its modern Swiss electric trains are already known in Belarus, as ten were purchased in 2010, following a tender, operating on city and regional lines.
“Accordingly to our agreement, we’ve already begun production of passenger rail and urban electric transport in the Minsk Region,” stressed the President. “It’s expected that, this year and next, we’ll be manufacturing Belarusian electric trains and trams to rival those made in Switzerland. As far as I know, we’re on schedule but, if there are any questions, please let me know. I’m personally overseeing the construction of the plant.”
Mr. Lukashenko stressed that he is ready to listen to offers from the Swiss regarding the acceleration of bilateral agreements and noted the importance of the project receiving no delay. “The sooner we launch the site, the faster it will bring benefits to the Swiss company and to Belarus,” he said.
Mr. Lukashenko has ordered the Government and Belarusian Railways to create a line connecting the capital with Minsk National Airport. “We need to study existing railway lines and branches without delay,” he asserted, believing that this will significantly expand the airport’s usefulness. He added, “More people will use the airport if it’s easy to travel out from and reach. Currently, it’s quite problematic.” He also noted that existing railway lines should be taken into account and funds diverted from other state programmes if necessary, to ensure that the airport is catered for. He believes that an airport link can be achieved at reasonable cost if wise planning is undertaken and that a line could be operational by late 2014 — early 2015.
The Director General of the Swiss Stadler Rail Group, Mr. Spuhler, estimates that the new line making passenger rail and urban electric transport in Belarus will be ready to launch by October-November of this year. He notes that the first double-decker trains for Russian Railways are to be ready by December 2014 and thanked the President for the opportunity to discuss the project, which he believes is running well. He underlined, “I came not to reveal problems. We feel the active support of the Government and the Minsk Region’s leadership and have managed to solve two or three small problems very quickly.”
Mr. Spuhler also notes that winning the tender to supply Russia with trains has been significant and is delighted that they’ll be assembled and produced in Belarus. “I think this project is of great importance for Minsk. At the Belarusian plant, we’ll be able to produce not only electric trains but double-decker trains,” he explains.
During the meeting, mutually beneficial expansion of co-operation between Belarus and Stadler Rail Group was discussed.