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Taipei becomes the latest city to adopt Made in Italy driverless subway trains

by Marco Morino

Railway technology – together with furniture, fashion, precision engineering and food – is increasingly becoming a powerful ambassador of Made in Italy around the world, and was recently recognized and appreciated in new markets in Asia.

At the end of August, the first of the 17 driverless trains built for the Taipei Metro was delivered by AnsaldoBreda (now called Hitachi Rail Italy after the acquisition by the Japanese group). The total value of the contract (involving Hitachi Rail Italy together with Ansaldo Sts for the signaling system) is around €200 million (Hitachi's share is around €110 million).

The trains are entirely built in Reggio Calabria, reconfirming the centrality of this facility in the Hitachi system.

“Every time, the delivery of the first train is a special moment,” said Hitachi Rail Italy CEO Maurizio Manfellotto. “Now we mean to respect the deadlines and to finish the trains for Taipei in 2018. We are a global company and we want to promote Italian technology and railway engineering all over the world.”

And Manfellotto's words are confirmed from the inside of Reggio's mechanical workshops, with its some 500 employees.

“Currently, the Calabria-based factory is managing 5 contracts at the same time: subway trains for Honolulu (Hawaii), Lima, Copenhagen and Taipei, and also the Vivalto trains destined to regional journeys for the Italian rail operator Trenitalia (FS),” said Giuseppe Marino, chief operating officer of Hitachi Rail Italy.

Trains and wagons are on display on the large squares inside the factory. The facility covers the whole production cycle: from aluminum to trains, complete and tested. In the last few years, the company has invested over €10 million on this facility to automatize the processes.

With what results? In the last three years, production has grown by 30%. As regards the contract for Taipei Metro, the collaboration with Ansaldo Sts is strategic for driverless trains: “We will build a new generation of signaling systems to allow a constant monitoring of the trains' position,” said the CEO of Ansaldo Sts Andy Barr.

After the success of Frecciarossa 1000 and the driverless metro trains all over the world, Hitachi Rail Italy is getting ready for future challenges. The new regional trains (Caravaggio) for Trenitalia will be needed soon, which will contribute to the modernization of the Italian train fleet. And then the trains for the British railways. All of it under the sign of Made in Italy technology.