8 Oct 2010

Friction over new train contract

12:33 pm on 8 October 2010

Eurostar has bought $US1 billion worth of new trains, but has got itself offside with the French government.

The European rail company, which runs high-speed services from London to Paris and Brussels, has chosen the German company Siemens to supply its next generation of trains.

But France does not approve. The French government had pressed for the new trains to be built by French firm Alstom, which built Eurostar's existing fleet.

Paris and Alstom have raised concerns about safety standards on the Siemens trains, which has been rejected by Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic.

He says the decision to go with Siemens will stand.

Siemens trains will be able to carry more than 900 passengers, which is 20% more capacity than the existing trains, and will cut the travel time between London and Paris to just over two hours.

Eurostar is about to lose its monopoly on passenger services through the Channel tunnel.