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New market Swiss train maker Stadler finally breaks Asian curse


A Stadler "FLIRT Akku" train on a test run in Switzerland.

(Keystone / Gregor Fischer)

After trying for years to land a contract in India, the Stadler company has finally managed break into the Asian market with recent deals in Indonesia and Taiwan. 

The last two months have been cause for celebration for the train manufacturer based in eastern Switzerland. On Tuesday, Stadler announced that it has won a contract to supply 34 diesel-electric locomotives to Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA). The contract is worth 165 million euros (CHF181 million). 

Only three weeks ago, the company had announced its first major deal in Asia: a joint venture with Indonesian firm PT Inka to manufacture rail vehicles at a dedicated production site in Banyuwangi. One of the conditions of the joint venture is an order for 500 suburban rail carriages with an option for a further 500 carriages. Production is expected to start in 2021. 

“The new production site in Indonesia consolidates Stadler’s market entry in Asia and creates the best possible conditions for achieving growth in the region,” stated Peter Spuhler, Chairman of Stadler’s Board of Directors. 

Indian misadventure 

Stadler’s recent successes in Indonesia and Taiwan have come as a relief to the company after setbacks in India. Stadler had hoped to gain a foothold in the Indian market ever since the government opened the railway sector to foreign direct investment in 2014. Its efforts seemed to pay off when it was one of three finalists for a 2015 tender to supply 5,000 “state-of-the-art” electric coaches over a ten-year period. It was the second-largest contract in the history of the Indian Railways and worth almost CHF3 billion. But now the contract is being reviewed as part of an assessment of India’s coach requirements up to 2027.  It was already on hold as the other two bid finalists - Alstom and Siemens – announced a merger in 2017 that was subsequently blocked by the European Commission this year.  

There was light at the end of the railway tunnel for Stadler when it participated in a tender in 2016 with its Indian partner Medha Servo Drives. But it was not meant to be.

“The tender was cancelled and therefore the joint venture did not come into force,” a Stadler spokesperson told via email.

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