PARIS Transport Authority (RATP) and French National Railways (SNCF) have threatened legal action after Alstom announced it wanted to renegotiate a €2.56bn contract to supply 146 trains for Paris RER Line B, which it inherited with its acquisition of Bombardier Transportation.  

RATP and SNCF Passenger awarded the contract, which is being funded by regional transport authority Ile-de-France Mobilités, to a Bombardier-CAF consortium in December. However, the signing of the contract was postponed following repeated appeals in court from Alstom, which had also submitted an offer for the contract. 

After it completed the acquisition of Bombardier on January 29, Alstom reviewed the bid submitted by the consortium before announcing on February 3 that it planned to attempt to renegotiate the contract.  

Alstom chairman and CEO, Mr Henri Poupart-Lafarge, said there were concerns that the price offered for the contract was too low, and there was not enough flexibility within the technical specifications.  

“We examined the offer very carefully from a technical and financial point of view and came to the conclusion that it was not viable,” Poupart-Lafarge told French newspaper Le Figaro. “We found irregularities that should have disqualified this bid. For example, the gauge of the proposed trains does not comply with the standards. On the other hand, the bogies proposed by CAF have never been offered. CAF has already had problems with the development of new bogies, in the context of a metro contract in Brazil. This led to a two-year shutdown of the metro fleet. I don't want to get to such an end in the Ile-de-France region.”  

Poupart-Lafarge said there was also a large gap in the cost of the bid submitted by Alstom and the Bombardier-CAF offer, which he said was “too good to be true.” “There is no margin for error in the technical choices, the equipment choices are made as precisely as possible, and the gauge of the trains is not up to standard,” he says. “The development schedule for the trains is 50% shorter and the price 20% lower than those of the new generation RER E, on which Bombardier is losing money.” 

RATP and SNCF said they received a letter from Alstom on February 1, requesting talks without the participation of CAF. However, the operators said that they were committed to undertaking the contract in line with public procurement procedures, which do not allow firm offers to be renegotiated after they have been submitted. 

“Moreover, by confirming its last offer on January 4, less than a month ago, the Bombardier-CAF group has undertaken to carry it out in the event of being awarded the contract,” the operators say. “Alstom has taken over all of Bombardier's contracts and commitments by acquiring the company. 

“The RATP-SNCF Voyageurs consortium confirms the continued awarding of this contract to the Bombardier-CAF consortium, and hopes to be able to proceed with the signing of this contract as soon as possible, in the service of Ile-de-France Mobilités and in compliance with competition law.” 

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