Alstom has confirmed it filed a claim in the High Court in London on
October 19 and is seeking an injunction to stop the signing of the
Euros 600 million contract for 10 e320 Velaro trains (pictured), which was due to take
place on Monday.

e320.jpgAlstom believes the contract cannot be concluded by Eurostar because it
does not comply with the existing safety rules in the Channel Tunnel.
The company claims it was told by Eurostar at the beginning of the
tender process that a deal would not be concluded until the Channel
Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) has made a final decision on
whether to permit the use of trains with distributed power in the
tunnel. "Any signature of the contract is premature as the safety rules
have not yet been modified," an Alstom spokesperson said.

However, the IGC has indicated it has no objection to distributed
power, provided traction equipment is fitted with fire detection and
extinguishing equipment that is compliant with tunnel safety

A spokesperson for Eurostar told IRJ that the allegations made by
Alstom are "without foundation" and that Siemens was chosen because
it's bid was "significantly better" in a number of key areas. Alstom
questions both the grading of bids and the evaluation techniques used
by Eurostar. Eurostar says all bids were fairly and objectively
evaluated against a comprehensive set of criteria.
On Monday a European Commission (EC) source told Reuters that there had
been "no problem" with the way Eurostar had conducted the procurement

Both bidders offered trains with distributed traction, and Alstom's bid
was based on its latest generation AGV. According to Eurostar, Alstom
made no objection during the tender process to consultation proposals
by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA) on updating operating

In a separate development, the head of the French delegation to the
Channel Tunnel Safety Authority, Mrs Françoise Deygout has been ousted
from her position after just four months. She has been replaced by Mr
Michel Aymeric, who was previously chief inspector of the French Public
Institution of Railway Safety (EPSF).

The French government has openly condemned Eurostar's decision citing
safety concerns relating to the use of distributed traction.
A full report on Eurostar and German Rail's plans for international
services to London will appear in the November edition of IRJ.