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Eurostar plans speedy London to Frankfurt link

Published: 14 May 2012 16:21 GMT+02:00

The Germany-London high-speed rail link will be a direct challenge to European airlines, the Financial Times said.

"By 2016 and 2017 we would like people when they are thinking about travelling to these cities to consider taking Eurostar rather than flying,” Eurostar Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic told the paper.

Since launching the high-speed link between London, Paris and Brussels in 2007, Eurostar has almost killed off air travel between those cities, said the paper.

The line now carries 9.7 million passengers a year, offering much faster journey times between the city centres than air travel.

But now Eurostar is upping its game as it faces future competition from Deutsche Bahn. Germany's train operator won a long battle with French state operator SNCF two years ago to gain access to the tunnel linking Britain and France.

Eurostar – 55 percent of which is owned by SNCF - has until now enjoyed a monopoly on travel through the Channel Tunnel.

But Deutsche Bahn is set on launching a competing ICE service by the end of 2015, said the paper, speeding passengers between Frankfurt and London via Cologne in an estimated five hours.

Still, Deutsche Bahn will have to pay above the odds for the privilege of using the line.

Petrovic thought at least one other competitor would get into the tunnel along with Deutsche Bahn, he told the paper, but said the opening up of the high-speed rail market was a good way to tackle the dominance of the airlines.

“The key growth area for us is to take market share off airlines and if more [train] operators come in it will grow the whole market for high-speed rail,” he said.

Now in an ambitious move, Petrovic said Eurostar would expand its service from its international hub in London not only to German cities, but also to Amsterdam, Lyon, Marseille and Geneva over the next five years.

The expansion will coincide with Eurostar taking delivery of ten German-made Siemens trains big enough to seat 900 passengers, scheduled from the end of 2014.

The deal sparked a row between Germany and France in 2010 when French engineering giant Alstom tried to stop Eurostar buying the trains from its German rival.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:26 May 14, 2012 by catjones
ah, excuse me. Hello, it's me, Berlin, over here. Hi there. Hey, listen, I'm like the capital. I know I can't do airports, but how about a train for me? You wouldn't have to compete against air travel, cause there isn't any here.
18:01 May 14, 2012 by Englishted
So you can catch the train from more German cities than English ones.

Most of Britain is North of London but the railways don't know it.
18:45 May 14, 2012 by blackboot11
@catjones

Maybe its because the Hauptbanhof Berlin which was opened in a rush job (similar to the current BBI debacle) in 2006 is already falling apart.

...can't do airports and can't do train stations.

Although the thought of the train connection to London from Berlin via Eurostar would be great .
20:14 May 14, 2012 by frankiep
Why would they make a connection from London to Berlin? Doesn't make any sense. The financial/business capital of Germany is Frankfurt, not Berlin, and building a train connection between the two biggest financial centers in Europe makes a lot more sense than building one to Berlin.
20:41 May 14, 2012 by michael86
That's pretty cool, I like trains more than airplanes. :D

But connecting the European Cities with the Transrapid would be faster and cheaper in the long term. I don't understand why they ignore this wonderful technology.
22:32 May 14, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
I would like to see this, as Air travel takes too long and costs too much compared to Rail travel, and I know tax payers never have to pick up the bill for any new trains, rail and/or stations.
10:32 May 15, 2012 by JSD
Having taken the EuroStar often, I can only think the DB will be far superior in service and prices. The eurostar is usually 3Xs more expensive than any other train. The trains are also cramped. Maybe the new Siemens trains will be better. I just don't think the Eurostar is big enough or together enough to compete with DB, Thayls and TGV. I also wondering how they are going to manage international checkin at the stops along the way, such as Cologne, which is already very small for such a busy train station.
15:41 May 18, 2012 by Voice
I'd certainly use DB to travel to London but not Eurostar. When Eurostar first opened it had really cheap deals on 1st class weekend returns including meals etc. Then the fares started rocketing and I tried second class which is quite a bit different. As JSD says, the seating is cramped and not at all good for such long distances. I've never used it again since I moved to the continent 11 years ago.

DB on the other hand - as we all know - are much better with their ICE trains and indeed pricing. Providing prices are right I'd say DB will win hands down.
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