French government to buy 15 high-speed trains, keep factory open

France's government, in a move to avoid the planned closure of a train factory owned by French manufacturer Alstom, said Tuesday that it would invest in 15 high-speed TGV trains.

French train operator SNCF also confirmed its order of 6 high-speed TGV trains, as well as 20 locomotives that are capable of repairing other trains on the track network.

The move was announced by state secretary for industry, Christophe Sirugue, and Alstom president Henri Poupart-Lafarge. The site of the factory, near Belfort in north-eastern France, was at risk of closure due to slow orders.

On September 7, Alstom management had announced that Belfort's production would be moved to the northern site of Reichshoffen before 2018.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, whose Socialist government faces a fierce electoral campaign next year, tweeted after the announcement that "thanks to the mobilization of the state and everyone's contribution, Alstom's site at Belfort is saved!"

Sirugue said the 15 trains purchased by the state would be slated for the Marseille-Bordeaux route in southern France. The route currently has no high-speed tracks, but the government said its expects them to be installed along the Bordeaux-Toulouse and Montpellier-Perpignan routes.

French news agency AFP estimated the cost of the 15 trains to be 450 million euros (502 million dollars).

Alstom, for its part, said it would invest approximately 40 million euros for the diversification of production and engineering at Belfort.

Last update: Tue, 04/10/2016 - 22:18

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