Deutsche Bahn is still considering using high-speed trains between Germany and the British capital, London, via the Channel Tunnel and through Belgium. The German Railways Company confirmed this to the German News Agency (DPA).
A company spokesman said: “Train traffic between London and mainland Europe via the Eurotunnel remains essential for Deutsche Bahn.” Deutsche Bahn's international train traffic is growing strongly and is also seeing a trend towards more sustainable travel in traffic to the UK.
The spokesman added that the tracks and trains are not currently equipped with the European safety system ETCS along their entire length. “The acceptance of our high-speed ICE trains in Belgium, northern France and England depends on this.” Therefore, the concrete implementation of Deutsche Bahn's planning depends on the timing of the technical modernization of the tracks.
Deutsche Bahn originally planned to run ICE trains between Frankfurt and London in 2013, via Cologne, Brussels and Lille. But years of discussions about safety requirements scuttled those plans.
The Channel Tunnel will celebrate its 30th anniversary on 6 May 2024. As far as passenger trains are concerned, only Eurostar – partly owned by Belgian railway company NMBS – currently uses the railway tunnel.
Getlink, the tunnel operator, has already indicated several times that it wants more competition. It aspires to double the number of direct, high-speed connections through the Channel Tunnel during the next ten years. A recent presentation by Getlink points to potential links between London and Germany (Frankfurt and Cologne), Switzerland (Basel, Zurich and Geneva) and southern France (Bordeaux, Marseille and Lyon).
In addition to Deutsche Bahn, the Spanish railway company Renfe, the British Evoline Initiative and the Dutch Heurotrain have indicated that they are looking into high-speed connections through the Channel Tunnel.
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