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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
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