Liberalisation of the European rail freight transport market has created to possibility for everyone (that possesses the mandatory safety and operation permits of course), to start its own rail operation company. By permitting new operators on the various European networks, competition levels should increase and prices should drop.
Newly founded open access operators entered the market, competing with the privatized national railway operators, to profit from the increasing demand for transportation. The open access operators come from various backgrounds,, but share a common problem. They have to start small, with tight budgets, often too tight to invest in modern, expensive rolling stock right from the beginning. Next to that, an operator first has to be sure that it has gathered a number of transport contracts with customers that are such a solid base that one can economically justifies serious investments in new rolling stock.
A leasing pool
The market for cheaper second hand vehicles was soon overloaded, inspiring Siemens to come with an interesting alternative for rail operators. Being a manufacturer they were able to set up a pool of modern electric and diesel locomotives in a relative short period. A pool of new and therefore state of the art locomotives, not for sale, but available for hire or lease to rail operators on a very flexible basis. Machines could be hired for one day, 6 months or even years, depending on the number of service contracts an operator is able to acquire. Risk of Investment is therefore being reduced.
Siemens also set up a service system for its pool locomotives. Mobile teams can service machines on location, for example during (un)loading its train. For repairs, general overhauls etc, a network of work shop was created throughout Europe. Should a machine accidentally break down, Siemens even guarantees direct replacement.
founding Siemens Dispolok GmbH
To manage its leasing and servicing activities, Siemens founded a separate subsidiary; Siemens Dispolok GmbH. The ES64F4 series became one of three successful products that Dispolok offered to its customers since 2000. It is identical to the DB 189 series, a multi-system freight locomotive, that theoretically can run on all western European rail networks with normal gauge (1435 mm) rail systems. Unlike the DB, Siemens decided to invest a lot in getting the yellow and silver painted machines homologated for many countries, as especially freight operation proved to 'internationlize' vey rapidly.
Dispolok for sale
This proved how fast the market for rail transport was changing, also affecting the position of Dispolok in the market. Independent investment companies discovered the lease market and massively invested in modern electrics and diesel locomotives. Lease companies were slowly becoming important customers for the railway industry, because they order locomotive power in large quantities. Their demands increasingly influence the innovation strategy of the industry. With its Dispolok pool, Siemens was increasingly competing with its own potential customers, so in 2006 it was decided to sell the subsidiary and to focus more on their core business again: building locomotives. Of course, the transaction was also financially attractive, raising money which can be invested in developing new products.
In October 2006, Mitsui, a leasing company originally form Japan, got permission to acquire Siemens Dispolok GmbH (from then on renamed as Dispolok GmbH), including the complete locomotive fleet, at that moment including around 35 ES64F4 platform locomotives (with ES64F4 001-005 already sold to Italian rail operator RTC and the ES64F4 028-033 still to be delivered). The deal also included an order for 50 more ES64F4 electrics, the first order from a leasing company for Siemens. Dispolok was renamed MRCE-Dispolok and positioned next to MRCE, the Mitsui subsidiary that was already active on the European market since 2004. Both companies were given a different focus. MRCE Dispolok serves customers in Austria, Italy, Poland and South East Europe, MRCE covers the other parts of Europe.
Restructuring MRCE and MRCE Dispolok
As of 01.04.2008, a next step was taken integrating the locomotive leasing operations of both MRCE (Amsterdam) and Dispolok GmbH (Munich). The integration comprised a transfer of all leasing operations to MRCE Dispolok, and a concentration of all corporate operations in Amsterdam, which will continue to carry the name of MRCE. All day-to-day locomotive lease operations including sales & marketing, fleet management, logistics management and service & maintenance management for the entire fleet of MRCE and MRCE Dispolok will be centralized in Munich, while the marketing and technology strategy & development, business administration, financing and budgeting, locomotive procurement and ownership will be homed in Amsterdam. Further unification of the fleet will be reached by applying the new MRCE (Dispolok) logos and painting all machines black as soon as possible.
further changed in the organisation, new name
Just before the summer of 2011, MRCE changed its logos. This was a result of another internal re-organization. All operational leasing activities are since then the repsonsibility of the Amsterdam-department. A new logo was introduced, only saying MRCE. Officially the end of the 'Dispolok' name on locomotives.