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FT.com / Companies / Rail - French tensions rise over German trains
France's transport minister has stepped up his government's opposition to Eurostar's planned €600m order for German-built trains, saying that only trains built by France's Alstom could use the Channel tunnel.

Dominique Bussereau's remarks to LCI Television are likely to increase European Commission concern over France's stance over the order, announced on October 7, for 10 new Velaro high-speed trains from Germany's Siemens.

Eurostar, controlled by SNCF, France's state-owned train operator, is the first SNCF affiliate to order high-speed trains from a manufacturer other than Alstom, France's national champion.

Mr Bussereau repeated claims rejected by the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission and Eurostar that Siemens' trains would represent a safety risk. Eurostar's decision to opt for Siemens trains was "null and void", he said. "Since the beginning we have told the management of Eurotunnel, which manages the tunnel, and Eurostar, which operates it . . . that material other than Alstom material cannot be used," he went on. He added, however, that it was not a question of Alstom and other manufacturers, but that only Alstom trains currently met the safety rules.

Eurostar said it was confident it had chosen the best train for its customers. "We intend to proceed as planned," it said.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 03:37:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I listened to a debate about this on the radio. The basis for the safety issues is that the Alstom trains are built so that the train can be stopped such that the exit doors align with the tunnels emergency exits, and that passengers can get from all cars to each exit. The german trains are shorter and don't have the passages so that passengers are forced to walk out of the train and feel through the smoke to get to the exits...

Don't know any more subtle details than that.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:09:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I thought as well. But does this have anything to do with who makes them? Is there some reason why you can't run a longer train with Siemens cars, or are they confusing two issues?

Of course, there's also the additional problem of what happens if a door comes off a German train in the tunnel...

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree; I don't think it is a matter of exactly who makes them, just that they are to be made to a certain specification and only one maker is doing it that way. The confusion is at the reporter's end.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:11:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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