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The possibility of train operator Eurostar
facing high-speed competition came one step closer last week when Deutsche Bahn
announced it intends to send one of its trains through the Channel Tunnel by
"This autumn, we will send an ICE3 test train through the tunnel beneath the
English Channel as part of our preparations for a possible train service to
London," said Deutsche Bahn chairman and CEO Dr. Rüdiger Grube, as
he presented the German national rail operator's half-year results.
Deregulation of Europe's railways
at the beginning of this year has made competition for Eurostar and other
cross-border services possible, but so far no rail operator has taken advantage
of the rule change. However, DB has expressed interest in commencing service
from Frankfurt to London and engaged in talks with Eurotunnel and the
state-owned operator of the high-speed track between the tunnel and the U.K.
capital. At present, DB's high-speed ICE3 trains do not meet the standards
required to operate through the tunnel, but these rules are in the process of
DB is beginning to flex its
muscle in other foreign markets too. Grube also announced during the results
presentation that the company is talking to French national rail operator SNCF
about launching Frankfurt-Lyon-Marseille passenger service from 2012. Earlier
last month, DB signed a memorandum of understanding with Swiss rail operator
SBB to form a joint subsidiary that will develop cross-border services between
Germany and Switzerland. Among the plans are to reduce journey times between
Zurich and Munich by 40 minutes to 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Ironically, in June, the European
Commission took the German government to the European Court of Justice for failing
to give foreign competitors the opportunity to enter its rail sector.