Hitachi Rail Italy
FormerlyAnsaldoBreda (2001–2015)
TypeSocietà per Azioni (S.p.A.)
PredecessorGio. Ansaldo & C. and Società Italiana Ernesto Breda
Area served
Key people
Maurizio Manfellotto (President & CEO)
ProductsRail transport vehicles
Number of employees
ParentHitachi Rail (2015–present)
Finmeccanica (2001–2015)
SubsidiariesHitachi Rail USA[1]

Hitachi Rail Italy S.p.A. is a multinational rolling stock manufacturer company based in Pistoia, Italy. Formerly AnsaldoBreda S.p.A., a subsidiary of state-owned Finmeccanica, the company was sold in 2015 to Hitachi Rail of Japan.[2] After the deal was finalized, the current name was adapted in November 2015 to reflect the new ownership.[3]


Early history: Ansaldo and Breda

Giovanni Ansaldo founded the company in 1853.
Giovanni Ansaldo founded the company in 1853.


In 1853, the company Gio. Ansaldo & C. was registered in Genoa as a manufacturer of steam locomotives, rail rolling stock and steam engines. The company was backed by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the powerful finance minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, who aimed to reduce its dependence on imported trains and rolling stock.[4] Ansaldo entered the age of the steam locomotive in 1854 with its model FS113, also known as Sampierdarena. During the First world war, Ansaldo became a large supplier of weapons to the Italian army; facing insurmountable difficulties with post-war reconversion to civilian industry, the company was eventually nationalised in 1921.[5] During the rest of the 1900s, the company diversified in different fields, especially power generation (Ansaldo Energia) and nuclear research, while the rolling stock activities were reunited under Ansaldo Trasporti.


Breda thousandth locomotive, the FS 685.600, at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Milan.
Breda thousandth locomotive, the FS 685.600, at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Milan.

In 1886, Ernesto Breda founded in Milan Società Italiana Ernesto Breda.[6] By 1908, Breda's thousandth locomotive was built.[6] Breda entered the electric locomotive era in 1936 with the production of the FS Class ETR 200 series electric multiple unit. In 1939 this type set the land speed record for rail vehicles[7] at 203 km/h (126 mph).[8] Similarly to Ansaldo, also Breda became a main weapon supplier to the Fascist regime, especially of artillery and airplanes. After the Second World War the company was facing bankruptcy, and was eventually nationalised in 1947. During the Italian economic miracle of the 1950-60s, Breda produced a highly successful commuter train, the FS Class ETR 300, several classes of railcars and locomotives, and diversified into defense (OTO Melara) and, especially, buses. In the 1980s Breda participated in the consortium that designed the first Italian high-speed train, the FS Class ETR 500.

Merger and crisis (2001-2015)

AnsaldoBreda logo, 2001-2015.
AnsaldoBreda logo, 2001-2015.

In a massive restructuring effort, in 2001 the Italian state merged all the rolling stock activities of the then loss-making Ansaldo and Breda in a new company, AnsaldoBreda,[9] that in turn became part of the Finmeccanica state-owned group.[10] The new company won a string of big contracts across Europe and the United States; however, lacking adequate funding and capacity,[11] AnsaldoBreda became infamous for its unreliable products and long delays, irreparably damaging the reputation of the company.

Controversies during the 2000s

In 1991, 100 4000 Series railcars from AnsaldoBreda were delivered to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. On 4 July 2010, after several incidents where the doors would open while the train was in motion, Metro removed the fleet for repairs until 20 July that year. On 17 November 2016 Metro discovered an error in which a 4000-series car would display an incorrect speed limit to a train operator while in manual mode (which is the only mode used since the June 2009 Washington Metro train collision). On 7 June 2017 Metro announced that the 4000-series cars would be fully retired and removed from service on 1 July 2017, and by that date all cars were taken out of service.[12]

Delivery of 83 IC4 AnsaldoBreda trainsets for the Danish State Railways DSB was originally planned for 2003-2006. However, the last train was delivered only in 2013 and IC4 trains have seen many technical problems during their service.[13][14][15][16] DSB announced in 2016 that the trains would be withdrawn from service from 2024.[17][18]

After winning a big contract for the Fyra project in 2004, nine V250 train units were delivered to NS over five years later than originally contracted. Soon after the trains went into service in the Netherlands and Belgium, the V250 suffered a number of severe technical problems. The Fyra had a poor reputation for reliability. After a month of operations more than 5% of all trains were cancelled and less than 45% of them ran on schedule.[19] On 31 May 2013, NMBS/SNCB announced that they would exit the Fyra project and cancel the contract with AnsaldoBreda.[20]

The City of Gothenburg in Sweden has ordered 40 one-directional Sirio trams which were to be put into service on the Gothenburg tram network during 2005 and onwards. The trams were delivered late and functioned poorly when put into traffic. Among reported problems were corrosion, excessive track damage caused by the trams, malfunctioning air conditioners inside the trams and poor ride quality. The City of Gothenburg therefore withheld a large part of the payment for a delivered tram until fully operational.[21][22][23][24][25]

The 32 two-directional trams delivered for the Oslo Tramway from 1999, called SL95, have met several difficulties with rust during snowy weather and the heavy weight necessitates much maintenance to streets and tracks, which make the trams expensive to operate.[26][27] They are also considered to create more noise than necessary. The replacement of the trams will start in 2020 and the last trams will be taken out of service in 2024.[28][29]

After 7 years on a 4 year project the region of Stockholm decided to cancel the contract on new signal system for the red metro line in Stockholm with Ansaldo on 1 billion SEK. The prepayment of hundreds of million SEK is currently up in arbitration court.[30]

The Italian high-speed trains program

A Frecciarossa 1000.
A Frecciarossa 1000.

In spite of its overall terminal crisis, AnsaldoBreda managed to successfully participate in the Italian high-speed trains program until the very end of its existence. The ETR 500, that entered service in 1993, was continuously upgraded and run at a record speed of 362 km/h (225 mph) in the Monte Bibele tunnel between Florence and Bologna in 2009, setting a speed record for trains in a tunnel.[31] A new generation high-speed train, the Frecciarossa 1000, was developed in a consortium with Bombardier Transportation and entered service in 2015.[32][33] On 26 February 2016, a Frecciarossa 1000 reportedly attained a peak speed of 393.8 km/h (244.7 mph) while traversing the Torino-Milano high speed line.[34]

Hitachi Italy era (2015 to present)

Lacking the funds for a proper restructuring of its troubled subsidiary, Finmeccanica on 2 November 2015 announced the 'closing of transactions' covering the acquisition of AnsaldoBreda by Hitachi, together with Finmeccanica's 40% stake in Ansaldo STS. Under the agreements signed on 24 February 2015, following a dividend distribution announced on 6 March, the purchase price for Finmeccanica's stake in Ansaldo STS has been set at €9.50 per share, amounting to a total of €761m. The total net consideration to be paid for AnsaldoBreda as a going concern, including property assets, amounts to around €30m. As a part of the deal Finmeccanica would keep the responsibility for some residual contracts.[35]

On 2 November 2015 AnsaldoBreda changed its name to Hitachi Rail Italy.[3][36][37][38] Since being acquired by Hitachi, production of some British Rail Class 802 has been shifted to Hitachi Rail Italy's Pistoia plant due to Hitachi Rail's Newton Aycliffe plant, being at capacity.[39] The name changed in Hitachi Rail with headquarters in London and subsidiary in Pistoia. Production sites in Italy remain in Pistoia and Reggio Calabria.[40]


See also: Category:AnsaldoBreda locomotives

See also: Category:AnsaldoBreda multiple units



Tram and light rail


Main operators












AnsaldoBreda Sirio in Samsun
AnsaldoBreda Sirio in Samsun

United Kingdom

United States

See also


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Further reading

Media related to Hitachi Rail Italy at Wikimedia Commons