Eurostar could have rivals by 2012: Eurotunnel chief

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Rivals to high-speed Eurostar trains could also use the Channel tunnel between France and Britain for the London Olympics in 2012, Eurotunnel head Jacques Gounon said on Friday in an interview.

"If countries advance quickly on the access conditions file, it could be possible," Gounon told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"But we had better not waste any time," he warned.

Eurostar is a joint operation owned by the French national railway SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and the British group London and Continental Railways, and connects London with Brussels and Paris.

France and Britain fixed conditions for trains that wished to use the Channel tunnel, in particular their length, that are only met by Eurostar trains, effectively blocking rivals.

The German railway Deutsche Bahn has slammed this situation repeatedly and "the head of Deutsche Bahn is right," Gounon said.

"There is a market for a connection between London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt for example," he added, and "the tunnel's capacities are only half used" at present.

A working group has been established to study the situation.

© 2010 AFP

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