German trains head for Channel Tunnel

German trains head for Channel Tunnel

German trains will carry passengers from the UK direct to Amsterdam and Frankfurt through the Channel Tunnel, train operator Deutsche Bahn announced today. Travellers will also be able to reach Brussels, Cologne and Rotterdam direct on the same trains when the new routes open in 2013.

Three services will run daily via the tunnel once Deutsche Bahn get the go ahead from safety authorities. Currently Eurostar are the only operator allowed to use the tunnel, but their trains only take up 50% of its capacity.

Deutsche Bahn trains would travel to Brussels and then split in two before heading to the various onward destinations in Netherlands and Germany. One half of the train would continue on to Amsterdam via Rotterdam, while the remaining half would go to Frankfurt via Cologne.

It’s unclear if the services would start at St Pancras, London, as with other Eurostar trains, though the arrival at that station of a Deutsche Bahn ICE (Inter-city Express) train today would suggest their target will be the same terminal as the one already used by Eurostar.

Progress is already underway for the route to begin. Safety tests were carried out in the tunnel on Sunday when a test evacuation from an ICE train took place. One concern is that unlike Eurostar trains, passengers could not walk end-to-end of the new service because it would be two trains joined together.

Deutsche Bahn have said this could be a “new era” for the tunnel, with more train operators following suit as increased air fare taxes and increased security delays make air travel less competitive versus rail.

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