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Deutsche Bahn hails 'new age' of rail travel after Chunnel crossing

The Local · 19 Oct 2010, 20:59

Published: 19 Oct 2010 17:33 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Oct 2010 20:59 GMT+02:00

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The high-speed ICE train made its first trip all the way through the tunnel under the English Channel overnight and was welcomed at London's St. Pancras station by German and British officials.

The German rail operator wants to run regular services from the heart of Europe to London within three years, taking advantage of European Union rules that open up rail competition.

"We feel ... that rail transport in Europe stands on the threshold of a new age," said Rüdiger Grube, as he announced a bold timetable of trains connecting the British capital with major European cities.

"Three trains a day - in the morning, afternoon and evening - will connect Frankfurt and London via Cologne, Brussels and Lille in both directions," said Grube at the station.

"For the first time, we want to link Amsterdam directly with London," added the rail chief, estimating it would take five hours to travel from Frankfurt to the British capital and four hours from Amsterdam.

Deutsche Bahn's aim is to rival short-haul European flight times - around 50 flights a day from Frankfurt and the surrounding area currently serve London every day.

Rail chiefs argue that considering most airports are situated outside cities, many travellers would choose a five-hour journey time by train from Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital, to London over the same journey by air.

"From city centre to city centre these times can easily compete with air traffic," Grube said.

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said linking Frankfurt to London by rail would be "a European success story, and a vision will become reality."

Story continues below…

Britain's Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said passengers would be delighted if they could look forward "to reaching new European destinations in an easier, greener way from 2013."

Deutsche Bahn needs to demonstrate its ability to run safely on the route, which is being opened up to competition under new EU rules, to the annoyance of France, which has so far dominated cross-Channel traffic.

The ICE train had made its inaugural test run last Wednesday, becoming the first passenger train not run by Eurostar - an operator jointly owned by France, Britain and Belgium - to use the tunnel.

Carrying drivers and technical staff from Deutsche Bahn and tunnel operator Eurotunnel, but no passengers, it went part of the way through the tunnel before turning back and re-entering France after 10 minutes. Overnight Monday, it went through the entire tunnel.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:03 October 19, 2010 by William Thirteen
the Germans are either at your throat or at your knees - or in this case - at your train station!
18:56 October 19, 2010 by alanericsson
Just to correct William 13 -- Churchill ended his quote about "the Hun" with "at your feet".

Anyhow - I wish DB every success in their project. The Eurostar team have over-charged and under-served the travelling public for far too long.
19:18 October 19, 2010 by William Thirteen
thanks Alan! Yes, I can't wait to take the ICE direct to St. Pancras either!
22:57 October 19, 2010 by maxbrando
This is an absolutely wonderful thing! Government monopolies have been the greatest hindrance to European integration of all entities. The French and British still own the right of way, and will take a service charge. But travelling from city center to city center is a fabulous feat,
03:30 October 20, 2010 by crm114
"...The Eurostar team have over-charged and under-served the travelling public for far too long. "

As have just about every other british public transport provider for a very long time.
09:33 October 20, 2010 by freechoice
why can't they just build S-Bahn connections from Airports to City?

5 hours is almost half a day's trip.
11:07 October 20, 2010 by Johnne
Ha! thank God o! it´s really a dream come true for someone like me:-)
12:15 October 20, 2010 by moistvelvet
"5 hours is almost half a day's trip."


Actually it is almost a quarter of a day's trip :-p

But considering travelling from London > Stansted > Air berlin flight to some disused airbase mile outside Frankfurt or any other city and then a slow train into that city, then I can see how this new hi-speed rail service can compete with budget airlines on time and on service/comfort.

Even with the current ICE/Thales/Eurostar combo on offer now, tavelling from Germany > UK is not that much slower than going by air. Factor in air traffic delays, security checks and bad weather and it's obvious to let the "train take the strain"
16:18 October 20, 2010 by DoubleDTown
I agree 5 hours sounds reasonable. But if the price doesn't compete, it won't be practical for a tourist. Based on DB's current prices, I'm guessing the price might be significantly higher than current airline prices even from non-hubs like Dresden.
10:29 October 21, 2010 by lordkorner
Hmm,did you say no security checks,maybe I will fly!
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