IRJ - December 2010 - (Page 8)
Alstom digs in as Eurostar contract row rumbles on
Kevin Smith Features editor
LMOST two months since announcing an order with Siemens for 10 new highspeed trains, Eurostar has still not signed a contract. With rival bidder Alstom refusing to back down over claims that Channel Tunnel safety rules were overlooked during the bidding process, the saga looks increasingly likely to drag on into next year. The French manufacturer says that it expected Eurostar to wait until rules concerning the use of distributed traction in the Tunnel were officially changed before announcing a winner of the tender. The Intergovermental Commission, which oversees the Tunnel’s safety rules, published a study recommending amendments to existing standards which only permit the use of power cars through the tunnel. Alstom argues that as a result of the upcoming changes, which are expected to be ratified in February, it anticipated having more time to improve what it describes as a hastily prepared bid for the contract. And despite having a British
High Court injunction against the tender rejected on October 29, Alstom is continuing to fight to block the order. On November 10 the court was persuaded to demand more information from Siemens and Eurostar on the bidding process with a hearing scheduled for October next year. The European Commission is also investigating after Alstom filed a complaint on November 4. Alstom is also reportedly questioning the role of consultant Interfleet during the tendering process, claiming that the company was advising both Eurostar and Siemens at the time of the tender. An Interfleet spokesperson told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on November 5 that discussions took place with both companies, but emphasised there was no conflict of interest. In response to the legal challenge, Eurostar stated its confidence in the judgement reached during the hearing and its belief that the best trains for its passengers were selected. “These delaying tactics do not appear to be out of the ordinary for Alstom and we
understand that it has lodged lawsuits, often unsuccessfully, following many of the tenders where it has not been chosen as the preferred supplier,” Eurostar said in a statement. The company has though agreed to postpone the contract hearing “for a further short period” while the French and British governments engage in a “constructive
dialogue on the important wider public issues raised.” Eurostar says that these discussions will be concluded in the near future at which time it expects to complete the deal. But with the High Court seemingly wanting more facts to be made public about the matter, Alstom is clinging on to the hope that the contract might yet be retendered.
Czechs to open longdistance market: Czech Railways (CD) will lose its monopoly of domestic longdistance services by July 2013, under proposals outlined by transport minister Mr Vit Barta last month. The first services to be tendered will be Ostrava Olomouc, Prague - Cheb and Prague - Decin, and up to 75% of long-distance services will be open to private competition by 2020. At present all of these services are operated by CD under a 10-year contract with the transport ministry, which pays the operator Koruna 4 billion ($US 227 million) per year to run them. RegioJet plans to launch a Prague - Ostrava service on an open-access basis by June 2011.
IRJ December 2010
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