In what is seen as a blow to international rail cooperation, DB (German Rail) has announced it will no longer sell tickets for the Thalys high-speed train service from June 9.
The decision will mainly affect those passengers using the high-speed line linking Brussels with Cologne which is served by both Thalys and DB’s ICE trains.
Passengers will lose out because they cannot book the full range of services and, if they know that two operators ply this route, they will have to purchase separate tickets with all the complications that will entail.
The Brussels-Cologne route was recently upgraded to high-speed operation. It’s popular not just with travellers within mainland Europe but also with those originating in the UK and who are bound for Germany and beyond because Cologne is a major rail interchange.
Currently high-speed trains on this line take around 1hr 50mins to accomplish the trip.
Trains operate roughly every hour during the busiest times of the day and DB’s website (bahn.com) currently displays all services and sells tickets for both itself and Thalys. But Thalys sales will cease from June 9.
Why is DB making this decision?
Thalys is jointly owned by the railway networks of France, Belgium and Germany. DB is selling its modest 10 per cent shareholding, hence its parting of the ways with Thalys.
But DB’s move would appear to conflict with the aims of Railteam alliance (railteam.eu). This trade body, comprising national rail networks, was set up in 2007 so that rival companies would work together to promote high-speed trains within Europe.
The ideal of one European network is still far from being realised.
Last year, DB confirmed that it remains committed to operating international trains from London St Pancras (see online news, December 2012).
For more information, visit bahn.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter