European rail companies sue carbon and graphite cartel

European rail operators claim damages from firms manufacturing products used in train motors.

Leading European rail operators, including Britain's Angel Trains, Germany's Deutsche Bahn, Spain's Metro and five others, are claiming damages from companies involved in a carbon and graphite cartel.

A class action lawsuit filed in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, London, by the operators seeks to recover overpayments for carbon and graphite products from several firms such as SGL Carbon, Morgan Crucible Co, Schunk, Le Carbone-Lorraine and Hoffman & Co, Elektrokohle AG.

The plaintiffs claim they were overcharged for carbon and graphite products used for transferring electricity in train motors.

Between 1988 and 1999, the companies involved in the cartel controlled 93 per cent of Europe's market for carbon graphites.

In 2003, the European Commission had also fined the companies involved in the cartel €104.4m (£88.2m), but the case dragged on until 2009. According to the Commission, the cartel held more than 140 meetings to decide price increases for a broad range of products.

Other plaintiffs in the case include Italian train operator Trenitalia SpA, the Dutch railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen and the Portuguese state railway CP-Comboios de Portugal EPE.