Wed, Mar 21, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Alstom-Siemens files US$800m suit against THSRC

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP

The Alstom-Siemens Eurotrain consortium has filed a US$800 million civil lawsuit claim against Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) after it failed to obtain a high-speed rail contract.

Eurotrain filed its claim with the Singapore International Arbitration Center to arbitrate the dispute in February and demanded a claim for its expenses over the past four years, a THSRC executive said.

"We have prepared for the lawsuit, which was expected," the executive said, adding that progress on the 345km rail between Taipei and Kaohsiung in the island's south would not be hampered.

THSRC named Eurotrain its "preferred bidder" in a preliminary 1997 deal for the supply of train carriages, locomotives, electronics and communication systems, and maintenance.

But THSRC switched the US$3 billion deal in December 1999 to Taiwan Shinkansen Consortium (TSC, 台灣新幹線), led by Japan's Mitsui Corp.

The Taiwan High Court rejected in June of last year an appeal filed by Eurotrain seeking an injunction to stop the signing of the agreement with TSC.

THSRC and TSC finalized the contract in December 2000.

"The Japanese side offered a better package in terms of price, financial planning and maintenance. This is a commercial decision," the official said.

The issue resurfaced in Taiwan on Monday when David Lee (李大維), Taiwan's representative to Belgium, told lawmakers that the pursuit of compensation by Eurotrain through international courts was damaging Taiwan's relationship with European nations.

In February 2000, European External Relations Commissioner Christopher Patten, urged Taiwan to warn "internationally recognized principles of transparency, objectivity and nondiscrimination," regarding the deal.

Construction of the high-speed rail project began in 1999 and the system is expected to become operational in 2003.

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