Deutsche Bahn postpones its London plans yet again

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  • AMcWhirter

    Readers hoping for some competition for Eurostar will be disappointed.

    There was much excitement back in 2010 when Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB)announced plans to operate its ICE trains direct to London St Pancras in competition with Eurostar. In 2010 it was thought that DB’s ICEs could have started as early as 2012.

    But four years later and DB announced its plans had been postponed.

    Deutsche Bahn postpones London rail service

    A report today in quotes a senior DB official as saying that the plans have been postponed yet again for at least another five years.

    It quotes Birgit Bhole, president of DB’s long distance network as saying that “London is not in our schedule for five years because we have other priorities.”


    The fiasco of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport comes to mind.

    The Germans rarely screw up, but when they do, they do it properly!


    Brexit effect?


    TominScotland – Perhaps. But in the intervening period (since DB announced its London plans in 2010) Eurostar has improved its product.

    Soon after DB’s announcement, Eurostar invested in a fleet of 900-seat Siemens trainsets (which are still being delivered) and it also announced plans to operate a London-Amsterdam through service (which is expected to start at the end of this year).

    DB’s original plan was to have through trains from London to both Amsterdam and Frankfurt with the trainset being split in Brussels (with half continuing to Amsterdam and the other half proceeding to Frankfurt).

    Finally there has been the growth of LCCs (low-cost airlines) and from later this year Ryanair will be flying from Frankfurt (the main airport and not Hahn) to the UK.

    Ryanair poised for major Frankfurt expansion


    Alex, we discussed the extension of trains to Amsterdam from London some time ago, and some important points were made.
    That of Immigration Of entering the EU or UK Border controls, and Customs. Travellers would have to get off the train, go through as in Brussels already.
    There was also some concern re the track compatibility in each of the relative countries, and use of dedicated lines or the normal lines in Holland.

    Now Brexit means with border changes on the way, with ?? different restrictions of some type, this would carry a greater doubt of the viability of these services financially.

    I took the Eurostar then connected to Thalys, having to go through Brussels immigration for exiting the UK, and entering the EU, one desk behind another quite ridiculous. If lucky you wait about 55 minutes but as the two do not schedule the trains to connect or in any way at all service each other, it can be almost over 1 hr 30 waiting.
    On the return, the Thalys ran late and i had to ask the train Manager to communicate the late arrival, as even the 50 minute change was down to 10 minutes. over 25 passengers were connecting in the few carriages. He told us Eurostar knew and would hold the train 10 minutes.
    I raced through knowing the system and where to go, and Just managed to get on the train. I was the only one!
    Eurostar shut the doors, it did not leave for another 3 minutes as some people raced up the stairs to get on but doors were locked.
    They were not entitled to use their tickets on another train, Thalys and Eurostar stated they were not responsible for each others timings or tickets. Some i understand were charged another £108 for a basic ticket,not all got on the next peak hour trains 2 hours later, and some arribed 4 hours late and over £300 out of pocket.

    Generally, door to door living not far away in North London, and 10 mins from Amsterdam Central station, it took 6.5-7.5 hours. Check in, security, Customs, Immigration is no different to an airport, then the travel time and connections take far longer then a flight, even further through to Germany.
    I have not used the route since, but Paris or Brussels i can understand ex London or Amsterdam with Thalys.


    MarcusGB – Yes I well remember your Thalys/Eurostar experience.

    Over the past few months there has been some further news although, officially, Eurostar is not prepared to comment.

    The through Amsterdam-London trains (two services daily on weekdays) are planned to start by the end of 2017.

    Eurostar has been testing the Siemens trains over the London-Brussels-Amsterdam route. I believe they are now certified to operate in Holland (they recently entered service on London-Brussels).

    Still no definite news on how or where Amsterdam/Rotterdam passengers will clear security/immigration.

    Eurostar remains on track for Amsterdam by the end of 2017


    Thank you Alex.

    Indeed i cannot see how long and where they would process immigration, unless the train does not stop and this is done at each end of the journey.
    The times to travel to and from the stations can be small, compared to having to have checked through 30 minutes before, allowing for Security, ticket gates, and immigration, you need an hour from London at least.
    I cannot see this being any quicker London- Amsterdam, compared to say LCY, 45 mins hop to Amsterdam on KLM or other airlines.

    (KLM have 4 now, up to 5 of their Embraer’s each way towards Autumn, with CityJet now contracted to fly for KLM. It seems that KLM are phasing in all of their own aircraft for this route as they get their new aircraft, and CJ will fly less and less).


    I can’t see why customs and immigration checks can’t be done on the train? This used to be the case for trans European trains pre Schengen and still is (customs) between Switzerland and its EU neighbours.


    The other piece of the jigsaw puzzle previously discussed is the pricing. Until the train companies in the UK and Europe can integrate whatever software needs to be integrated in order to get sensible pricing, I cant see the train into Europe being viable. Flying may be a hassle but it remains very cost effective. I would love to go from my local Thames Link station all the way to Frankfurt Hbf, but not for £500+.

    I have spoken to a client who works for one of the large travel software companies and is involved in a start up which will create a “Kayak style” third party website. The objective is to link together multiple transport systems across Europe (like LH and DB have created) to create a smooth, cost effective and fast alternative travel options.

    Airports with train stations, AMS/FRA/DUS/ZUR (+many more) could be used as hubs onto the train system, but with passengers having connecting tickets. Imagine needing to go to a city centre and it is quicker to be routed through a different city airport which has fast train connections.

    This to me is where DB (and passengers) could benefit – but until the pricing can be managed, for me the vision of taking the train deep into Europe (from the UK) is nothing more than a vision. Taking the train within mainland Europe shows what could be achieved…


    LP – I recall the early days of Eurostar when passport checks were carried out onboard the train.

    But later the rules were changed and today all passengers must be cleared for passport/security checks *before* travelling through the Tunnel.

    Martyn – Airlines already have air-rail facilities at hub airports which are directly linked to the national rail network.

    Two examples:

    Deutsche Bahn works with a number of airlines. Here’s the DB tie-up with Emirates:


    I’m responding to Martyn’s posting about integration of European rail systems and a ‘Kayak’ type website for booking. There are a couple in existence, which are reliable and robust and which I use frequently and with good results. I won’t name them here as it might be seen as advertising.

    I use trains whenever possible, within mainland Europe and to and from the UK. I find it a very pleasant and relaxing way of travelling. Unfortunately it is invariably more expensive than flying.

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