Britain's secretary of state for transport Mr Philip Hammond announced
yesterday he had given the go-ahead for the Deaprtment for Transport
(DfT) to conclude a £4.5 billion contract with Agility Trains, a
consortium of Hitachi and John Laing, for 533 vehicles, which will be
assembled at a new facility in northeast England.

Unife argues however that the deal reinforces what it terms "a lack of
reciprocity between Europe and Japan in rail procurement" and claims
that the Japanese market is effectively closed to its members through
the use of a so-called operational safety clause which prohibits
foreign manufacturers from bidding for contracts.

"The decision to accept the Hitachi bid weakens the European position
vis-á-vis Japan and shows the lack of interest of some governments to
support Europe's industrial base in the fight for open markets and
against unfair trade practices," says Unife director general Mr Michael