This is an important development in high-speed (HS) daytime rail and yet the news was hidden in yesterday’s statement by Deutsche Bahn (DB).
This planned direct Paris-Berlin HS service was announced in Strasbourg by Richard Lutz, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, and SNCF president Jean-Pierre Farandou.
Both signed an agreement which would see their existing JV (joint-venture) service extended to Berlin. Both rail bosses stressed their successful JV co-operation over the past 15 years has seen around 15 million travellers board their TGVs and ICEs.
Despite strong airline competition both rail companies operate a total of 12 HS trains daily to Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich.
One point to note is that all these trains use Paris Est and HS line LGV Est. Those trains running from Paris to Cologne/Dusseldorf are operated by Thalys, depart from Paris Nord and take a different HS line via Brussels.
No date was given as to when the proposed Paris-Berlin daytime service would launch.
Germany’s transport minister Dr Volker Wissing says:
“In view of the great challenges of climate change, rail must also play a greater role in intra-Europe transport. For 15 years now the cooperation between DB and SNCF has shown how it can work.
As might be expected the fact that two state incumbents should monopolise these important routes does not sit well with All Rail which represents new rail entrants.
Bye Bye Market Opening 👇👋
State incumbent vision for the future is just cross-border cartels with each other, such as SNCF & DB's new annoucement today
whereas if they were to compete, we could have lower fares, higher frequencies & more passengershttps://t.co/Y2QwjWdbKx
— ALLRAIL Alliance of Rail New Entrants in Europe (@ALLRAIL_EU) May 24, 2022
It has a point. Just look at how cross-border HS rail travel has developed between Paris and Milan since Trenitalia was allowed to compete with SNCF or how the Spanish domestic market has developed since Ouigo ES appeared.
Finally, note that above I refer to “daytime” trains. This is because France wants to launch comfortable night trains between Paris and Berlin in the future.