Italy's AnsaldoBreda offers solution to Fyra train dispute


PISTOIA, Italy (Reuters) - Italian train maker AnsaldoBreda has proposed supplying Belgium and the Netherlands with trains capable of better withstanding snowy weather, CEO Maurizio Manfellotto said on Monday, in a move aimed at saving a 400 million euro contract.

Earlier this year Belgium's railway operator SNCB cancelled a train order with AnsaldoBreda, accusing it of producing trains unable to cope with last winter's severe cold. Dutch train operator Netherlands Railways also said it would stop using the high-speed Fyra trains.

Cancellation of the order has been a reputational setback for the loss-making AnsaldoBreda and has complicated the restructuring plan of its controlling shareholder Italian defence group Finmeccanica (MIL:FNC).

At a conference on Monday at the company's plant in Pistoia, near Florence, Manfellotto showed reporters a train with alterations that could help sweep away heavy snow on the line. He said if Holland and Belgium agreed AnsaldoBreda would supply the newly equipped trains in 14 months.

"We want to tell the Dutch and the Belgians we are capable of finding a solution," he told Reuters after the conference. "This is the only quick and safe solution we can commit to immediately... Alternative solutions are costlier and longer," he said.

The parties have turned to courts to resolve the dispute, blaming each other for the disruption.

Manfellotto said the cancellations were "unacceptable" and accusations against the company "instrumental" because the train was safe and had been certified by the relevant authorities.

The Fyra order envisaged the supply of 19 trains, 16 of which were earmarked for Holland with nine being actually delivered. The Dutch railways has already paid 120 million euros.

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni, writing by Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans)

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