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Safety approval for new Eurostars

Channel Tunnel authorities say new German trains will be allowed, after rival French manufacturer raised safety fears

EUROSTAR'S plans to start running new state-of-the-art trains through the Channel Tunnel from 2014 have been approved by tunnel safety authorities.

The train operator announced last year that it was planning to buy 10 new trains from German manufacturer Siemens, but rival French firm Alstom, which makes the current Eurostar stock, claimed they were unsafe.

The new trains use a system called "distributive traction", where the engines are placed under the floors throughout the length of the train. The current Eurostar fleet has separate motor carriages at the front and back.

The committee responsible for Channel Tunnel safety has now confirmed to Eurostar that the new model will be allowed in the tunnel.

Alstom has one last chance to block the deal going through. It is awaiting a ruling from the high court in London next year on whether the decision to award the tender to German manufacturer Siemens breached contract law.

The 10 new Siemens Velaro trains, which are capable of reaching speeds of up to 320kph, will cut the journey time from Paris to London from to two hours.

The new trains will carry 900 passengers, a 20 per cent capacity increase on the current stock, and will include wi-fi and on-demand video and music.

Siemens carried out a test journey last year to prove the trains were safe and that the train can be efficiently evacuated in an emergency.

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