Chunnel charges hit Frankfurt-London link

Chunnel charges hit Frankfurt-London link
Photo: DPA
Plans to run fast German trains from Frankfurt to London, long dogged by delay and difficulty, have been hit with another problem – it will cost so much to send the trains through the Channel Tunnel, the entire project could be unprofitable.

Ulrich Homburg, head of personal transport at Deutsche Bahn, said on Thursday the amount charged for trains to use the tunnel was, “20 times the amount on comparable German stretches.”

And even once the trains have got into the UK, the high-speed sections of track there will still cost around ten times what it costs in Germany.

Yet despite the cost, Homburg insisted, “The connection is not in doubt.”

The idea had been to have the service up and running for the London Olympics this summer, but that target has long been abandoned.

Negotiations with French authorities over licenses for the German trains took a long time, and Siemens, which was building them, then also made delays. These are currently putting the latest target date of 2015 in doubt.

But Homburg said he was confident. “We are waiting for a final ‘Go’,” he said. Siemens is aiming to deliver 10 of the eventual 16 new ICE-3 trains this year.

Even if no deal can be made to reduce the tunnel rail fees, Deutsche Bahn is in good shape to pay the extra cash – it announced increased revenues and profits from last year.

A statement released on Thursday showed a 26 percent profit increase in 2011 compared with the previous year, reaching a high of €1.133 billion. Passenger numbers rose by 1.6 percent to a record 1.98 billion, it said.

DAPD/AFP/The Local/hc

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