Friday, June 14, 2013

DB secures Channel Tunnel access

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AFTER three years of studies, the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) has granted German Rail (DB) a 'Certificate B' operating licence to run passenger trains between France and Britain.

In a statement issued on June 14, Eurotunnel welcomed the IGC's decision, which is eventually expected to attract 3-4 million additional high-speed passengers per year, in addition to the 10 million passengers already carried by Eurostar.

Eurotunnel says no additional infrastructure investment will be required as sufficient paths are available to accommodate DB's planned services.

Preconfiguration tests were first carried out in October 2010 using an ICE3MF multi-system train equipped with TVM430 and ETCS. Later that month DB announced it intended to launch services from London to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt by this year, but delays in securing Channel Tunnel access and the protracted approval of the class 407 Velaro-D fleet in Germany means services are unlikely to begin until 2016 at the earliest.

The class 407s were due to enter service in Germany by December 2011, but are still awaiting Federal Railway Authority (EBA) approval for operation in multiple, a prerequisite for operating in the tunnel. The trains will be retrofitted with new braking software and a new approval process will begin in July. Siemens told the German media recently that this process, which is largely in the hands of the EBA, could take anything between four and 18 months to complete, meaning the trains would finally be available for commercial service in Germany sometime between November 2013 and January 2015.

As the DB trains have yet achieve TSI compliance, approvals for France, Belgium, Britain and elsewhere on the basis of the TSI cannot begin properly.

DB will also have to satisfy British immigration authorities that it complies with stringent conditions for passport checks at stations before it can begin operating commercial services.

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