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Public procurement localisation
On 14 October 2010, French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau intervened publicly against the purchase of 10 high-speed trains by the French operator Eurostar from the German technology company Siemens. The minister said that "the contract 'between the two companies' is null and void. '...' From the beginning we told 'the operators' that material other than the one used by Alstom may not pass 'through the Eurotunnel.'"
The statement came one week after Eurostar had announced its intention to choose Siemens over its French competitor Alstom in a deal worth EUR 700 million.
The tension between the French government and Eurostar/Siemens arose over current safety regulations in the Eurotunnel. The contracted Siemens model differs from the current high speed train fleet produced by Alstom in the number of engines in use. As the Siemens trains include an operating engine in each carriage, these trains pose a higher fire risk according to the French government.
At the press conference anouncing the Eurostar/Siemens deal, UK Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond commented 'I don't believe that there are any substantive concerns over safety issues, '...' but I do understand that there are proper processes that have to be gone through and it's quite right that the safety commission should want to be fully satisfied and have all the 'i's dotted and 't's crossed.'
Press reports that the French government would try to refer the dispute to the European Commission have been disclaimed by French officials on 18 October 2010.
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