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Opening of new Berlin-Munich high-speed train line to be celebrated Friday

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Opening of new Berlin-Munich high-speed train line to be celebrated Friday
A section of the new high-speed rail route between Munich and Berlin. Photo: DPA.
10:26 CET+01:00
After more than a quarter of a century in the making, the rail link connecting Germany’s capital and its economic powerhouse is ready to open to the public, but not without large scale celebrations first.

The opening ceremonies for the ICE express route will take place on Friday, two days before the start of scheduled services.

In the morning, a special train will be running along the new route from Nuremberg to Berlin, picking up the minister-presidents of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt along the way. Also on board will be Deutsche Bahn boss Richard Lutz and the interior and transport minister in Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann.

Festivities are planned in various other cities, including Erfurt, Leipzig and Wittenberg.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Formula 1 racing driver Nico Rosberg and other prominent figures are expected to attend the closing ceremonies in Berlin.

The 623-kilometre ride between Germany’s two most famous cities will take considerably less time via rail for passengers from December 10th onward. The new “Sprinter” trains will take a brisk 3.55 hours, blowing two hours off current journey times with trains travelling at speeds of up to 300 km/h.

Lutz says this will place Deutsche Bahn "in striking distance" of its competitors in the airline business. The new line is set to put pressure on airlines as well as bus companies, which currently dominate the market on the route.

With construction having begun in 1996 and finishing last year, the line was first planned in 1991 as part of the “Travel Project for German Unity” - a scheme of linking up east and west German travel infrastructure after reunification.

Some 22 tunnels and 29 bridges have been built on a new 107-kilometre stretch of track through tree-studded valleys and the Thuringian Forest in former East Germany.

But whereas the journey through the state of Thuringia may be idyllic, a one-way ticket on Sunday from Munich to Berlin will set a traveller back around €125. The current train route which takes about six hours usually costs somewhere between €75 and €120.

Deutsche Bahn expects the annual number of passengers between the two metropolises to double to €3.6 million.

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