Manufacturer sees faulty Belgian high-speed train fixed in days

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:24am EST

BRUSSELS Jan 23 (Reuters) - A faulty high-speed train that has become the subject of an ultimatum by Belgium's railway operator will be fixed "in days", an executive at the Italian manufacturer told Belgian daily De Tijd in an interview published on Wednesday.

The new high-speed train connecting Brussels and Amsterdam, dubbed the "Fyra", suffered cancellations and delays in the first week it was launched.

Services were suspended indefinitely last week when freezing temperatures caused parts to come off from the undercarriage of the trains, made by AnsaldoBreda, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica .

"Our first analysis is that the problems are simple to solve," AnsaldoBreda's operations director Giuseppe Marino told the paper. "In a few days the trains should be useable again."

Marino also spoke with Dutch financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad and Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

Belgium's railway operator SNCB set AnsaldoBreda a three-month deadline to resolve the problems.

SNCB said it would cancel an order for three V250 trains worth 63 million euros ($84 million) unless the trainmaker could fix the problems.

It said an advance payment of 35 million euros it had made to the Italian group was covered by bank guarantees and could be recovered in the event the contract was terminated.

Dutch railway operator NS, which has already taken delivery of nine V250s, said on Saturday it would also accept no further trains. It had ordered 16 in total.

The potential image setback for AnsaldoBreda comes at a time when Finmeccanica is trying to sell the loss-making unit to cut debt and focus on its core defence and aerospace activities.

AnsaldoBreda had attracted interest for a possible acquisition from Hitachi and GE.