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Deutsche Bahn to sue Arcelor, Saarstahl for damages

A Deutsche Bahn logo is pictured at the main train station in Mainz August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bahn said it was filing claims against a number of steel companies including ArcelorMittal and Saarstahl for damages which the German rail operator alleges were caused by fixing of the price of railway sleepers.

"The companies that took part in the cartel have declined to hold talks on damages. That is why we are suing now," Deutsche Bahn management board member Gerd Becht told weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag according to a report published on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the state-owned company told Reuters that the companies involved included ArcelorMittal and Saarstahl and said the suit was to be filed in the Netherlands.

Neither ArcelorMittal nor Saarstahl were immediately available for comment.

Bild am Sonntag cited internal Deutsche Bahn documents as saying that the company believed it was sold 48 million reinforced concrete sleepers at prices that were too high over an 18-year period, causing damages worth a three digit-million-euro sum.

The European Commission in 2010 fined 17 producers of prestressing steel a total of 518 million euros for running a price-fixing cartel for 18 years. The fine was later reduced to 270 million euros, 45.7 million of which fell on ArcelorMittal.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Sabine Siebold; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Andrew Roche)