[FR] A new market for CAF: French RATP orders hybrid shunting locomotives

We did not see this one coming! Not Alstom, but CAF will be delivering new hybrid shunting locomotives to RATP, the public transport operator in and around Paris. RATP will use the locos for maintenance and construction trains on its network. Starting in the first quarter of 2019, CAF will deliver twelve hybrid (electric + NiCd battery) locomotives. There is an option for six more units. The order volume is 65 million euro when RATP decides to buy 18 locos.

CAF being the winner is a blow for Alstom, that was hoping to sell its new ‘Prima H4’ mid-cab hybrid locomotive to RATP. Alstom is eagerly searching for new customers for its locomotive products, as the order book is quite empty, and because it is under severe pressure of both the local and national government to keep its locomotive factory in Belfort going. Last year, Alstom announced that it wanted to close down the Belfort site to save costs. It is anticipating on the not so optimistic forecasts of the French/European rolling stock market.

CAF got mixed up in the Belfort discussion as it was afraid the government would award Alstom directly with new orders, just to save jobs in the Belfort region. CAF stated European legislation requires a public tender process and a fair chance for all competitors. So it went, and now CAF is the winner. Saillant detail: CAF is from Spain. However, it has announced it will design and produce the new locomotives in France, in its factory in Bagnères de Bigorre, in the very south (Hautes Pyrénées). But still no good news for the employees of Belfort.

RATP decided to tender for 1MW electric hybrid locomotives as these machines can be operated fully independently from the infrastructure. This is very useful on track sections that are under maintenance or under construction. RATP choose to install NiCd batteries in stead of diesel engines so offer its employees are healthier work environment. Especially in tunnels, the low-noise and emission-free locomotives are very welcome.

The order is also remarkable as a mid-cab shunting locomotive is new for CAF. The Spanish manufacturer is gearing up and entering new markets in order to stay relevant in a market that is globalizing rapidly.