Troubles meeting deadlines have plagued the company awarded the $574 million contract to provide rail cars and a control center for Honolulu.

The parent company of AnsaldoHonolulu in 2009 lost a contract with Los Angeles County after complaints about missed deadlines.

AnsaldoHonolulu is a joint venture of AnsaldoBreda and AnsaldoSTS. Mayor Peter Carlisle announced the contract Monday, along with a $372 million contract for the second phase of the guideway to Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. The city said the contracts will save it $165 million compared with previous estimates.

Carlisle emphasized the savings at a press conference, but didn’t delve into Ansaldo’s record.

After complaints AnsaldoBreda was more than three years late delivering train cars, a $300 million contract between the company and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority fell apart in October 2009. The company had already delivered too-heavy cars, which required the Los Angeles transit agency to reinforce some bridges. Ansaldo blamed the transportation authority for a botched order.

The deal collapse also dissolved a plan to build a factory that would have created hundreds of local jobs, according to the Los Angeles Times’ reporting about the saga.

Reached for comment Monday night, AnsaldoBreda’s vice president of sales and marketing said he wasn’t prepared to comment about the newly awarded Honolulu contract, and had only just heard the news.

“We just found out, too, so I’m going to have to get back to you,” Lorenzo Reffreger told Civil Beat. “No comment at this time.”

Reffreger also said he had “no comment” about the previous contract with Los Angeles County. He followed up with an email to reiterate he had no comment. Enrico Fontana, in charge of sales and business development for AnsaldoHonolulu, did not respond to a voice mail or email requesting comment.

Los Angeles is not the only city that has complained about its business dealings with AnsaldoBreda. In 2004, Boston transit officials ended a $222 million deal with the company, and canceled delivery of train cars after “frequent breakdowns,” according to The Boston Globe. Ultimately, the two sides reached a settlement.

Officials in Washington, D.C., have also complained about train cars manufactured by AnsaldoBreda’s predecessor, Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie. In 2005, the Washington Post reported the city’s Metro had to spend $382 million to overhaul its fleet of so-called Breda cars, which needed new brakes, propulsion and other improvements.

Earlier this month, the mayor of Hornell, N.Y., reportedly complained about AnsaldoBreda’s delays, which resulted in furloughs for workers, according to the Buffalo News. In 2009, the Copenhagen (Denmark) Post reported delays and operational problems with AnsaldoBreda cars.

Honolulu rail spokeswoman Jeanne Mariana Belding told Civil Beat there is a clear distinction between AnsaldoBreda and AnsaldoHonolulu, which is handling core systems for the city’s $5.5 billion project.

“In the contracting world, that distinction is actually a big deal,” Belding said. “In this case, the contract was awarded to AnsaldoHonolulu, which is a joint venture of AnsaldoSTS and AnsaldoBreda. It’s just not the same company.”

About the Author