Ansaldo Honolulu JV, the company that signed a contract with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation for the city's rail project's core systems, unveiled its train concept for Oahu Wednesday. Although the colors on the rendering may change, the train "shell" is now set.
"We'll be reaching out to the public to talk about color schemes and some of the other interior design parts," said HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas. "We're going to make this fun."
Meanwhile, HART's Finance Committee approved $400 million of the $1.4 billion contracted for Ansaldo to proceed with the design, construction and delivery of train vehicles, the train control systems and the operation and maintenance of the rail system after installation. Grabauskas had been prevented from issuing a notice to proceed until Ansaldo presented the company's financial status to members of the HART board.
Ansaldo Honolulu JV is a joint venture between AnsaldoSTS and AnsaldoBreda, and according to financial statements provided Wednesday, both companies are on solid financial footing.
"We're very proud to say that it was another strong year of delivering quality results to our shareholders in 2012," said Joseph Pozza, Vice President of Administration for AnsaldoSTS
However, recent heavy losses by Finmeccanica of Italy, the parent company of AnsaldoSTS and AnsaldoBreda, has cast a cloud over Honolulu's proposed rail line. in 2011, Finmeccanica reported losses of $3.06 billion, and just last month, CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested on bribery charges related to a helicopter deal with India.
Despite the black marks against Italy's second biggest industrial employer, Grabauskas told reporters he's satisfied the rail project's core systems contract will be executed as promised.
"I remain very confident that we've got a great team of companies to deliver a great product," he said.
Ansaldo says Honolulu will have the first driverless rail transit system in the U.S. The company already has four such train systems operating in Denmark, Italy and Saudi Arabia, with an additional five systems pending completion.
The Honolulu contract was awarded to Ansaldo in March 2011. The contract calls for the delivery of the first 16 vehicles in 2014, and for the remaining 64 vehicles in 2018. Each train car is expected to have 96 seats, a number which must still be approved by HART through a change order. The original concept called for 76 seats per car.