Thursday, 10 March 2011

Hitachiballs - On opening up Japanese markets

Regular Eye readers will recall that UNIFE reacted with fury to Petrol-head's decision to award the IEP contract to Hitachi.

In particular the Euro rail group pointed out that:

Thanks to clear and transparent public procurement rules transport-related tenders in Europe are largely open to foreign companies, while the Japanese market remains completely inaccessible to European rolling stock suppliers. Indeed, only 2% of the Japanese rail equipment market is opened to foreign suppliers. This de facto market closure is achieved through the extensive use of the so-called “Operational Safety Clause” by which foreign bidders are brutally excluded.

Happily, Hitachi addressed these concerns head-on yesterday when it issued the following inscrutable statement:

UNIFE should not be so alarmed (in reference to its statement dated 3 March 2011) by the British Government’s award of the IEP (Intercity Express Programme) contract to Hitachi...

Hitachi believes in free market access between Europe and Japan in the rail industry and other sectors. We respect our European competitors, but we also think we have something unique to contribute to Europe. Hitachi Rail Europe is a European company led by Europeans, and Europe will gain, economically and competitively, from having a new quality player in the market.

So that's all right then!

UPDATE: This from Ithuriel...

So can we expect to see Hitachi inviting bids from European suppliers to fit out its trains for Japanese railway companies?
(No, don't be silly! Ed)

UPDATE: This from @Battlerb, via Twitter...

You may (or not) know that the biggest brake supplier for Shinkansen is Knorr Bremse from Europe.