Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DB puts London - Frankfurt plans on ice

Written by  Keith Fender

GERMAN Rail (DB) has admitted its plans to launch ICE high-speed services from London to Cologne and Frankfurt are now seriously delayed, and the service is unlikely to be launched before the end of the decade.

In 2010 DB announced in London that it was planning to run three trains per day from London to both Frankfurt and Amsterdam starting in December 2013, using Siemens class 407 Velaro-D high-speed trains. These would operate in pairs, with the Frankfurt and Amsterdam portions splitting and joining in Brussels.

The class 407s were originally due to enter service in December 2011 but certification delays meant the trains did not enter service in Germany until December 2013 and they are still not approved for use in either France or Belgium - this approval work is underway and is likely to be completed by next year.

Siemens has confirmed to IRJ previously that DB has not yet ordered the additional safety equipment, including fire protection and underfloor fire extinguishers, required for operation in the Channel Tunnel. As the programme to fit this equipment and gain approval for operation is likely to take two years, the earliest services could start would be 2018.

DB is now reportedly planning to concentrate on developing existing services from Frankfurt to Paris and Brussels. Media reports in France suggest DB is planning to use the new trains between Brussels and Paris in competition with Thalys.

As Eurostar has announced plans for London to Amsterdam services using its new class 374 Velaro-UK trains from December 2016 it seems likely DB has dropped its plans for London to Amsterdam trains in the short term at least.

On October 19 2010 DB sent one of its earlier international ICE3M sets to London's St Pancras International station, where it was exhibited to the press and invited guests . Evacuation tests using two class 406 ICEs were also conducted in the Channel Tunnel in October 2010.

Last June the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) granted German Rail (DB) a 'Certificate B' operating licence to run trains through the tunnel.

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