Channel link delay blamed on railways

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PARIS (AP) - GEC Alsthom, the Anglo-French group building the engines for the Eurostar trains, yesterday blamed the rail authorities for delays to the start of Channel tunnel passenger services.

The company claimed it was not allowed enough time to conduct tests in the tunnel or on tracks in Britain.

'The difficulties encountered in implementing the high-speed rail system between London, Brussels and Paris have long been well- known to all the parties concerned,' the company said.

'Modifications to the signalling systems between London and the tunnel, which are still under way, added to the difficulties of adapting and operating the trains.'

French, British and Belgian rail authorities announced on Wednesday that Eurostar passenger services would not begin this summer as previously expected. Start-up is now expected in late September at the earliest. Freight service through the tunnel began last month.

Eurotunnel, the tunnel's operator, has said it is considering compensation claims against the railways for loss of revenue because of delays in service start-up.

GEC Alsthom said it was usual for trains to be returned to the manufacturer's plant for final adjustment before and after the start of commercial service.

GEC Alsthom is a joint venture between France's Alcatel-Alsthom NV and Britain's General Electric.