RATB builds tram bodies as firms end feud over blaze

A Romanian company has been assigned to produce tram bodies for Vienna’s public transport network.Romanian Times reports today (Tues) that Siemens Austria, the Austrian subsidiary of German technology giant Siemens AG, ordered the Bucharest Transport Society (RATB) to manufacture 60 structures for trams set to go into operation in the Austrian capital during the coming years.The deal comes after Viennese public transport agency Wiener Linien and Siemens Austria ended a bitter war of words over a fire in a Siemens-produced tram.No one was injured when a so-called ULF vehicle – one of the newer generation of trams – caught fire in July 2009. Wiener Linien reacted by making clear it would put the order for 104 additional ULFs on hold until the incident is investigated and security measures improved.Wiener Linien and Siemens Austria, at the time headed by current Siemens AG board member Brigitte Ederer, eventually announced last February they decided to split the security improvements’ costs of 400,000 Euros.The firms said the already operating ULFs will be equipped with a new type of noise insulation mats. An older version of such a mat caught fire in the incident in summer of last year which sparked the investigation.Siemens Austria pointed out in February only the new type of mats will be used in ULF trams as of now to avoid similar incidents.The company said only yesterday that Austrian Industries (IV) General Secretary Markus Beyrer and Monika Kircher-Kohl, CEO of semiconductor producer Infineon Austria, have joined its supervisory board. Siemens Austria’s executive board is currently headed by former Porr chief Wolfgang Hesoun.The tram network of Wiener Linien, which has assigned Siemens Austria many times over the past years, is the fifth-largest in the world with 172 kilometres. Wiener Linien said an international study identified Melbourne in Australia as the city with the biggest network of trams (245 kilometres).