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Ansaldo reaffirms commitment to Honolulu rail project

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:32 a.m. HST, Aug 1, 2011

The parent company of the troubled winning bidder to build cars for Honolulu's rail system sought to reassure the public today about its commitment to Honolulu's rail project.

"The Honolulu driverless rail transit system will be Finmeccanica's 10th driverless program," the company said in a statement. "On behalf of its nearly 75,000 employees worldwide, Finmeccanica is pleased to reaffirm the company's full commitment to the Honolulu rail project. Finmeccanica is proud and honored to have been selected for this project, and will work tirelessly to ensure the people of Oahu receive a reliable system at best value."

 On Thursday, Italy-based Finmeccanica — the parent company of Ansaldo Honolulu JV — said that AnsaldoBreda — its rail car manufacturer — faces "urgent restructuring" or might be sold because of financial and managerial problems. In a webcast, Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi said that AnsaldoBreda has had difficulty producing cars for its customers, resulting in difficult customer relations.

No one from Ansaldo Honolulu or Finmeccanica has commented since Orsi's statements last week.

In its statement today, Finmeccanica SpA, the parent company of Ansaldo Honolulu JV, said, "For years, Ansaldo STS (Finmeccanica's operational and maintenance arm) and AnsaldoBreda have worked together to deliver driverless steel-wheel steel-rail transit systems worldwide. As Finmeccanica stated to investors, Ansaldo STS — the leader of the Ansaldo Honolulu JV — is a highly valuable asset of the group and is a well-respected and is undisputedly, a leading provider of transportation solutions."

The company said restructuring its rail transportation business "will be a valuable development, designed to maximize market penetration of the company's products and outstanding technologies worldwide. The AnsaldoBreda mass transit sector is highly efficient due to the high level of product standardization, and Finmeccanica is willing to enhance its organization to match its clients' increasing needs and to improve the value for the shareholders."

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