The rail industry appears to be running at full speed. The market leader Bombardier has put its transportation division on the stock market. U.S.-based Wabtec is offering €1.6 billion for its French competitor Faively, which would create a new mega-vendor with €4 billion in sales.
Nor is Germany immune to the merger mania: Heinz Hermann Thiele, owner of the world’s largest brake manufacturer, Knorr, is driving consolidation with the purchase of Vossloh, the locomotive and track builder.
These are clear signs of confidence in an industry that employs 50,000 people between Kiel in the north of Germany and Munich in the south.
Yet industry research is sending other signals, with the SCI Global Rail Index pointing downwards for the second consecutive time. According to a study shared exclusively with Handelsblatt, the reasons for this are unsatisfactory business conditions and an “increasingly critical assessment of the contract order volume.”
In Germany alone, order invoices for new trains and train technology collapsed by about one-third to €9.5 billion ($10.6 billion) in 2014.