ansayer_siemens.jpgSiemens is building the e320 trains at its plant in Dusseldorf, and in an interview with CNN, Dr Ansgar Brockmeyer, Siemens CEO of high-speed and commuter rail, said the buoyancy of rail markets backed by government stimulus funds has enabled the company to come through the world financial crisis relatively unscathed.
"The impact of the financial crisis was nearly nil," he says. "There were huge stimulus programmes and that helped us through the crisis and it helped us not to lay off any personnel here. It helped us to have big contracts to work on."
These include long-term contracts for the new fourth-generation Velaro D high-speed trains secured with Eurostar and German Rail (DB) which have provided Siemens with the security it needs to continue working even after government stimulus money has been spent.
However, Brockmeyer does voice caution about a potential hike in fares which might drive passengers away as governments spend to keep up with the required investments in high-speed infrastructure. He also points out that the European Union's desire to promote cross-border high-speed services as the future of its transport infrastructure is also hampered by the different signalling and electrification systems used across Europe. The impact on suppliers is that the average cost to build a 200m-long high-speed train is pushed up to around Euros 35m.
"Up to now the train has had to swallow all of these different infrastructure issues," Brockmeyer says. "Our high-speed can run over eight different signalling systems and four different voltage systems. That's a huge cost factor in the rolling stock."
Nevertheless, Brockmeyer believes the rail industry remains in a strong position to advance.
"The banks and the financials regard this as a very secure market," he says. "The business model for rail is still very, very stable."
Click the below link to watch the report from CNN Marketplace which airs on Thursday's at 18.45 GMT on CNN International.