Railway industry – Custom design and construction of railway and tramway vehicles.


Formerly Firema Engineering, then Firema Trasporti S.p.A. – Viale Edison, 110 – Sesto S. Giovanni (MI) – Italy (And now: Titagarh Firema Adler S.p.A.- www.asfirema.it).


Project Engineer responsible for designing the mechanical parts of the “Eurotram” supplied to ATM (Municipal Transport Company) of Milan – 1999–Mar 2000


To meet deadlines for delivery of the Eurotrams to ATM, Milan. The first Eurotram was due to arrive in Milan by Christmas 1999.

The importance of this experience

The experience was significant as Alberto Servienti had strongly wanted to get involved, demonstrating that he would also have been able to play a new role (with a Contract already underway and with many critical issues), in addition to his existing role (as Head of Railway Bogies Design Dept.). This new role involved more coordination aspects than operational, i.e., the role was more of a managerial than a specialized technical role.

Alberto’s goal was to maintain the delivery dates of the Eurotrams to ATM. The Eurotrams were designed and built by ADTranz (now Bombardier) and Firema Trasporti (now Titagarh Firema Adler). ADTranz was the principal in the Temporary Grouping of Companies, Eurotram system manager and the designer/manufacturer of the bogies, structural parts for car bodies and electrical traction equipment. Firema Trasporti (now Titagarh Firema Adler) was the agent in the Temporary Grouping of Companies and responsible for preparing the car bodies (interior fittings, doors, windows, lights, floors, etc) and assembling the trams (mechanical, electrical parts, car bodies, bogies, among others), as well as conducting factory acceptance tests. The first Eurotram was due to arrive in Milan by Christmas 1999.

The Firema Project Engineer who had followed the job since the start of the tender award had resigned at the end of 1998 and the Company was unable to find a suitable employee to fill this role and meet the contract deadlines.
In this context, a short time after the abovementioned resignation, Alberto Servienti proposed that he would suit the role of Project Engineer for the “Eurotram Milano” Project due to both his experience as a businessman and evidence of his ability to carry out this role for himself and the Company. At that time, he already occupied a position as Head of the Bogies Design Dept.

This spontaneous application was accepted willingly. He immediately began discussions with Firema’s Project Manager, Technical Director, Plant Manager in Padua and Project Manager and ADTranz’s Project Engineer, in order to understand which stage the project and construction were at, including also the construction in Padua, and several other critical issues and relationships with the Client, Suppliers and Firema’s resources. Some of Firema’s resources, committed to the project, were located in Sesto S. Giovanni (MI) and another part was located in Padua.

Activities carried out and approach applied

After getting a complete picture of the situation and its critical issues, an action plan was prepared. It included the priorities to be addressed and a time schedule to make sure that the delivery times could be respected (which still seemed feasible but very critical).
One of the main critical points was linked to the fact that, in order to save time, the construction projects had started before all the project parts had been completed, and so many trams were under construction in the factory at different stages. Whenever a stage of the project was completed, it could give rise to changes that needed to be made to the trams under construction. However, an effective change control system to be implemented and applied to the various trams had not been carried out. As a result, staff at the construction plant had no idea whether or when they should have applied a modification to a tram or whether this should not be done for any reason.

Pending the issuance of a Quality Procedure by the Company’s Quality Dept., proper “Operating Instructions” were prepared on an ad hoc basis and sent to all the main Stakeholders (Plant, Firema and ADTranz Design Depts., AD Tranz’s Project Engineer, Firema’s and ADTranz’s Project Managers and Firema’s Quality Dept.), together with the progressive number and date of issue of the Operating Instructions, a sketch of the modification to be made, trams on which to apply it, checks to be carried out after its application, critical issues regarding the delivery time of the main materials and Quality Procedures to be used for the modification if applicable, etc. The main purpose was to give the staff of the construction plant all the information needed to make, apply and track the changes on each Eurotram.

These “Operating Instructions” have been fully accepted by everyone and, in particular, by the Director of the Firema Plant in Padua, who believed in the possibility of meeting the expected delivery dates.
Besides the above, a strong integration action was carried out between designers and workshop technicians, with weekly meetings, in order to identify solutions for better construction and lower costs, which would allow optimization of the trams’ overall construction dates/deadlines.

Skills employed

Alberto Servienti tried to invest his will, tenacity, resistance, resilience, interest in something new, attention to others, involvement, sharing of common goals, leadership and credibility.
A great lesson was learned: never criticize what others have done previously, because (in addition to being very easy to judge) the previous contexts and boundary conditions that lead to a certain situation at a certain moment are unknown. In fact, he has never criticized the work of his predecessors openly or privately, and instead has always tried to push all the resources involved in various capacities to look ahead at the common goals and never look back at the past.


The stated contractual goal was achieved, as the first Eurotram arriving from Padua to the ATM “Ticinese” Depot was unloaded and placed on the tracks at San Siro square in Milan, at 4:00 a.m. between 8th and 15th December 1999, i.e., before Christmas 1999. It was formally delivered to ATM, who took charge of the tram and “guided” it to the abovementioned Depot.
The remaining trams were delivered successively, in accordance with the contract, with the last ones being delivered after Alberto Servienti had left the Company at the end of March 2000.