There was a special significance to the 2019 family open day at Bombardier’s Vado Ligure factory in northern Italy – the 2,000th locomotive built at the plant since its founding in 1905 was on display.
Class E.494 locomotive number E.494.039, manufactured for state-owned freight operator Mercitalia Rail (MIR), was joined by two other significant locomotives.
E.652.172, built in 1994, also for MIR, was the factory’s 1,000th loco, manufactured when the site was owned and operated by ABB.
The Vado Ligure facility had been acquired from its founder, the Italian arm of Westinghouse, by Swiss company Brown Boveri in 1919. Swedish electrical machines company ASEA merged with Brown Boveri in 1987 to form ABB and then that new combine’s rail division merged with DaimlerChrysler’s in 1996 to become Adtranz. Bombardier Transportation acquired Adtranz in 2001.
The third locomotive on display was made in the days of Brown Boveri. E.554.174 was manufactured in 1930 for use under 3,400V 15.8Hz three-phase overhead catenary.
Visitors were able to compare the three locomotives that played such a major part in the Vado Ligure plant’s history.
They were also able to see other E.494 locomotives from the Bombardier Traxx DC3 locomotive family at various stages of production. In addition to the units for MIR, Bombardier is making locomotives for private operators Captrain Italia, Compagnia Ferroviaria Italiana, Dinazzano Po, GTS Rail, LocoItalia and Railpool.
Reflecting on those links with the past, and on the significant contributions the site and its employees have made to the global locomotive industry over the years, Franco Beretta, president and managing director of Bombardier Transportation Italy, said, “Today, for the first time, we have brought together three different generations of heavy electric traction locomotives that we have produced here in Vado Ligure over the years.
“The earliest is the E.554.174 locomotive which we produced in 1930, next to it is the E.652.172 locomotive, part of the Mercitalia Rail fleet which, in 1994 was the site’s 1,000th locomotive built, and, last but not least, we have the modern E.494.039 for MIR, our 2,000th locomotive proudly manufactured at the Vado Ligure site.”
“The Family Day 2019 celebration is not only an occasion to look back on our accomplishments, it’s also an opportunity to recognize our employees’ passion, intelligence, hard work and the entire area’s pride in the ‘Made in Vado Ligure’ title,” he added.
Initially, it took 86 years to produce the first 1,000 locomotives, but then only another 25 years for the next 1,000, a result of both improvements in production efficiencies and speeds and in the popularity of the Class E.494 locomotive and its predecessor, the Class E.464, of which 728 were built between 1999 and 2015.