Deutsche Bahn (DB) has confirmed today that it remains committed to operating international trains from London St Pancras.
“The project remains live,” says DB spokesperson Graham Meiklejohn, “there are many parties involved in putting the plans together.”
The idea is that DB would operate a number of trains every day from London. Each would be formed of one complete unit when it departs from St Pancras. When the train arrives at Brussels Midi it would split into two sections.
One section would continue to Amsterdam Central (with possible stops in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport) with the other heading for Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (with possible stops in Cologne and Frankfurt Airport).
But as we reported recently (see online news November 27), the project has been dogged by technical issues with the ICE trains which have been ordered from manufacturer Siemens. It means that DB has been forced to postpone the starting date.
Meiklejohn would not be drawn on when DB might actually inaugurate the Amsterdam and Frankfurt trains.
“We had set a tentative starting date for 2016 but it is difficult to be more accurate until we receive more certainty [about when the ICE trains might be delivered] from Siemens,” he says.
“These are complex trains,” he says, “they are being designed to operate over several different railway systems each with their own technical standards. In addition they must also meet the requirements for operating through the Channel Tunnel.”
The latter is a further complication. Under existing rules laid down by the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (the body which determines technical standards for the Tunnel) passenger trains formed of two units joined together cannot use the Tunnel.
“We have still not received approval to operate our trains through the Tunnel,” confirmed Meiklejohn, “the Channel Tunnel safety authorities meet only two or three times a year so the necessary approval cannot be rushed. We are currently going through the procedures and have every confidence they will be fulfilled.”
It must be noted that UK travellers can still book high-speed rail via Brussels to Holland and Germany. But a change of train in Brussels is required and the ticketing procedures may not be simple.
Problems like these would be eliminated once through trains begin operation to the benefit so passengers would benefit from faster services and better pricing.
For more information visit bahn.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter