In Conversation with Mr. Maurizio Sala, President of Amafond, The major Association of Metallurgy in Italy

India’s budget, and the future of aluminium in the indian Rolling Stock

A comment on the Euro-Italian exchange with India regarding the railways comes from the President of Amafond, Maurizio Sala who in recent years has conducted the Indo-Italian Metal Hub missions, in collaboration with AAI (Aluminium Association of India) METEF, IIMH, ArtValley, FACE, Assomet and Assofond, Italcertifer, Italferr, LucchiniRS, and Saira. In this interview, Mr. Sala Presidente of the greatest Association of Metallurgy in Italy, highlights metallurgy’s importance in India’s railways sector.

The EU3 triad of France, Germany and Italy are the epicenter of the Railways industry and one of the European Union’s economic pillars. With the exception of Japanese high-speed rail, Europe is the most important nerve center of the railways industry with the UIC (union) in Paris and the manufacturing conglomerates Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and Hitachi Rail. The French and Italian high-speed systems are two technological and high-performancebenchmarks for passengers.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently presented the State Budget. You are the only President of an Italian industrial association, Amafond, who has met with Mrs. Sitharaman, and you discussed the future of metallurgy between the two countries with her. The meeting will soon be repeatedduring the 2020Italian diplomatic mission to India.

Rail Analysis: What are the latest developments in metallurgy for trains and also in India?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: The recent Rail Analysis Awards Conference on 22 January highlighted the importance of the new metallurgy, both for rolling stock and for the lines. This is something the managers at the major coach manufacturing companies—like Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh, the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur in Tamil Nadu, the Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala in Punjab and BEML in Bangalore—know well.

The European companies in the industry, such as Alstom, Siemens and Hitachi Rail, understand that aluminum extrusion will play a key role in the new metro systems. In Europe I would certainly mention the expertise of Constellium and Metra, which are among the very few companies with an extensive background in railways production.

Over the next decade, India will become one of the largest consumers of trains and coaches with aluminum components. The major groups—like Hindalco, Nalco, and Jindal Aluminium—are already organizing. This phase was described quite well at the INCAL 2019 meeting in Bhubaneswar organized by AAI’s Pratap Aditya Mishra together with ArtValley.

Probably the first aluminium metro coaches will roll in the Pune Metro with the manufacturing of Titagarh Firema

Rail Analysis: Please tell us about the Interiors and could you give us any example?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: Amafond’s associates are open to collaboration and have a wide range of machinery. The products they manufacture include train interiors, ceilings, lighting areas, pneumatic components, organic toilets, sliding doors, and many other aluminum parts, where manufacturing experience is needed.

Titagarh Firema, an Indo-Italian company, manufacturing with Italian technology in West Bengal, makes the cars for Pune’s metro system. Saira, another Indo-Italian company, produces high-quality interior components in Gujarat. Camozzi, headquartered in Noida, is a technology leader in sliding doors and organic toilets.

Rail Analysis: What do you think of India’s 2020 budget?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: Despite being the fifth industrial power in the world, it must approach institutional investors such as the IMF, WB, EIB and sovereign wealth funds for investment in infrastructure and mobility. Here the role of EU-based metallurgy stands out. One of the cornerstones of India’s budget involves taking action to attract investment in the railways sector. The most important Italian companies have recently been convened by Niti Aayog, the National Institution for Transforming India. Niti Aayog and Indian Railways have published a discussion paper for the management of 150 trains on 100 routes by private operators, providing for an investment of €3bn. The discussion paper entitled “Private Participation: Passenger Trains” identified 100 routes, including Mumbai Central-New Delhi, New Delhi-Patna, Allahabad-Pune and Dadar-Vadodara.

Rail Analysis: How do you interpret the railways’ role in metallurgy?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: In Italian and European metallurgy, the challenge is to manage a doubling of passenger volume and a tripling of freight volume. This will only be possible if we use lightweight, solid metals. Aluminum is used in extrusion and diecasting; it is clearly the metal of the future for trains and metro systems because it allows a decrease in specific weight and therefore a better energy ratio. Some Indian aluminum groups are also active in Italy in the non-ferrous sector, such as Vedanta, Hindalco, and Endurance.

Some of the largest Italian steel plants are dedicated to transport andhave been acquired by Indian groups. I’m talking about the Ilva plant in Taranto, the Ex-Lucchini plant in Piombino and the Magona d’Italia plant, which belong respectively to Arcelor Mittal, JSW, and Liberty Group.

Rail Analysis: So, it’s Indo-Italian steel for JSW then?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: The relaunch of the Lucchini plant in Piombino, now known as JSW Italy, offers an important opportunityto show that it could become—as happened with Pomigliano and FCA—a excellent manufacturer and a foundation for the relaunch of that part of the steel sector dedicated to transport. When he arrived at the end of January, Sajjan Jindal, head of JSW, was offered a genuine metals and transport engineering laboratory. In fact, JSW Italy produces the rails that serve the country. Together with LucchiniRS, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-quality wheelsets at the global level, they have made Italian high-speed rail and are major players in many markets.

Ms. Sitharaman, inaugurated India’s fiscal year with the statement ‘We wish to open up vistas for a vibrant and dynamic economy with a gentle breeze of new technology. This vibrant India shall be a caring society which shall attend to its weak, the old and the vulnerable among its citizens.’

Of course. It is a positive outlook. Narendra Modi’s primaryaim in India is to combine its industrial growth with an economy of solidarity.And, the railways are perhaps the biggest example of day-to-day solidarity in India. Certainly Minister Sitharaman, who has a highly political role in the government, has declared herself ready for major openingson the international stage in the railway sector.In addition, two key ministers—Pyiush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari—are involved in transforming mobility in the country.

Rail Analysis: So,what does this mean from the Amafond perspective?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: In the 2020 Budget there are strong measures to encourage the production and sale of Indian Primary Aluminum abroad by the large groups—Vedanta, Hindalco, Nalco and Balco—and to reduce Indian dependence on secondary production and in general production from foreign scrap. There are incentives to reduce the cost of fuel for steel production: this concerns above all Tata Steel, SAIL, JSW, JSPL, and Arcelor Mittal.

Rail Analysis: How do you interpret the 2020 Indian Budget in the railways sector and how does it compare to Italy’s?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: It’s largest public and private plants in the railways sector are in a growth phase. India is currently the world’s fifth largest automotive manufacturer and the world’s leading motorcycle manufacturer. Rolling stock will be able to reach impressive levels considering that 60% of the rolling stock and the network will have to be renewed.

Many Italian companies are active in the railways industry. Most importantly there is FS which is preparing a plan for the strategic Delhi-Jaipur line. In addition there’s Italferr, which is managing projects in Mumbai’s metro system and Delhi’s rail hub with NCRTC. Italcertifer has won several tenders in collaboration with the JS Group. LucchiniRS, Saira, Ducati Energia, Omac, Titagarh Firema, and Bettinelli are also active. In terms of railways support industries, we should certainly mention Danieli, Tenova and Camozzi.

Rail Analysis: What are the important upcoming events for the Italian sector?

Mr. Maurizio Sala: First of all, we should mention the Italian System mission to Delhi and Bangalore led by Ambassador Vincenzo de Luca, recently installed in the New Delhi Embassy. On that occasion a round table focused on railways and transport has been planned.In the context of the Italian System’s next mission to India in May, the stakes are very high for our companies in the metallurgy, automotive and railway industries.