Tuesday 27th Oct, 2020

Stadler enters Australian market

Stadler Rail executives at Milsons Point station. Photo: Stadler Rail
Photo: Stadler Rail

Swiss rollingstock business Stadler Rail has launched an Australian office, and wants to open manufacturing operations Down Under.

The company announced on Wednesday it has established Stadler Australia, and will set up local manufacturing facilities if it wins a major rollingstock deal.

Already shortlisted as one of four bidders for the NSW Intercity Fleet contract, Stadler officials told Rail Express the company has recently held talks in at least four states – NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia – and is now actively pursuing contracts, using the new Stadler Australia office in Sydney to lead the push into the region.

“Australia and the Asia Pacific region offer exciting new business opportunities for Stadler Rail, which we are determined to pursue,” Stadler vice president Peter Jenelten said.

Stadler has had its eye on the region for some time, but Jenelten said the recent transition to the Turnbull Government, and subsequent changes to transport funding policy, had helped make the decision to open an Australian office an easy one.

“This federal funding will stimulate the construction of new rail and light rail projects throughout the country, in addition to the new rail projects that are already underway in various states,” he said.

“This is a very good time for Stadler Rail to be entering the Australian market.”

Speaking at an event in Sydney, Jenelten explained the company’s reasoning behind local manufacturing.

He said it made financial sense – with Australian dollars being both earned and spent by the business “protecting [the operation] from the exchange market” – and explained the recent trend of closures in the manufacturing sector meant there should be a surplus of skilled labour available. “The skills are there,” he said, “we should have people on the market.”

Jenelten said while Stadler would not try to compete with Chinese manufacturers when it came to initial investment cost, the Swiss business was confident it could give customers a better product, which would pay off in the long run.

“I’ve always said a decision to buy a train is like a wedding,” he said. “It can be expensive, but a divorce is even more expensive.”

Stadler rollingstock would outstrip Chinese competition when it came to life-cycle costs, with an “excellent track record for being good in energy consumption,” Jenelten argued.

“The more time I spend in Australia the more confident I am about the potential for Stadler passenger trains in this region,” he added.

Stadler manufactures rollingstock for every level of passenger rail: light rail, trams, metro trains, suburban rail and intercity trains.

The Swiss company is one of four bidders shortlisted for the NSW Intercity Fleet. It is joined on the shortlist by Alstom Transport Australia; a consortium of Downer EDI Rail and CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles; and a consortium of UGL Rail Services, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and CSR Corporation.

Shortlist members were issued with a formal Request for Tender in September. Transport for NSW is aiming to have the first train of the 520-carriage deal in service by 2019.

Stadler is based in Bussnang, in the north of Switzerland near the German border. It has grown from having 18 employees and a revenue of roughly AU$7 million 25 years ago, to employing more than 6000 people, and boasting an annual revenue of more than AU$4 billion today.

“We’ve developed strong relationships in our existing markets,” Jenelten said. “I believe our capacity to innovate and offer bespoke solutions will serve Stadler Rail well as we move into the emerging markets in the east.”

Pictured: Stadler Rail vice president Peter Jenelten (left) and director of marketing and sales Stan Skalski (right) at Milsons Point in Sydney.

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