Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

And the beat goes on…

Posted in Business, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 24 January 2011

The Eurostar/Siemens/Alstom conflagration has reared its head again, as accusations are levelled of pressure by the French government on the Intergovernmental Commission to stop the proposed changes to the safety regulations regarding distributed traction. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Railways, a group of British parliamentarians from all parties and both chambers, has written to the IGC to voice its concern over the delays :

(We) would be disappointed to see Britain deprived of these rail services due to administrative delays. It is very important for open access and competition reasons in the passenger market that the issue of getting safety approval for the trains through the tunnel is undertaken dispassionately and objectively.
Lord Berkeley, All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group

Deutsche Bahn had planned to start its proposed Frankfurt and Amsterdam services from the December 2013 timetable change, something that looks increasingly likely to slip into 2014 if the row is prolonged further. Not only is there pressure on the IGC to not change the safety rules, but there is now also threats from Alstom of compensation claims if the tender process for the Eurostar order is not re-opened:

Faute d’un nouvel appel d’offres, nous demanderions des indemnités substantielles. Nous persistons à demander l’annulation de cette procédure abracadabrantesque où l’on cherche à adapter des règles de sécurité à un équipement préalablement choisi.
Patrick Kron, CEO Alstom

I don’t know about you, but this seems tantamount to blackmail on Alstom’s part. Neither they, nor the French government, should be allowed to get away with this. The British Government should say to their representatives on the IGC “choose what you think is right and we will support you”. David Cameron and Angela Merkel should take Sarkozy aside and in no uncertain terms tell him, on this issue, to fuck off. And Eurostar and Siemens should say to Alstom “do your worst, as we are confident in both the tender process and the product”. In today’s newspaper there was a story about the French trying to foster an Anglo-Franco-German defence alliance. Bringing Britain and Germany together, especially given that they are natural and historic allies, would seem to be a good thing to do on this issue.

“Channel tunnel row threatens to derail high-speed London-Frankfurt link”
“Contrat Eurostar: Alstom menace de demander des “indemnités substantielles””


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