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DB’s London – Frankfurt plan in doubt again

19 Feb 2014

EUROPE: Deutsche Bahn has cast further doubt on the introduction of direct high speed services between Germany and London, citing authorisation delays to its fleet of Class 407 Velaro D high speed trainsets now being delivered by Siemens.

At a press launch on February 18 marking the introduction of the Class 407 trains into traffic on domestic services in Germany, Andreas Busemann, Head of Production at DB Fernverkehr, told the Reuters news agency that ‘we have not entirely given up the goal of going to London. But for now we are concentrating on going to Brussels and Paris. Once that is done we will think about whether, how and when we will go to London.’

Busemann added that the process to approve the operation of the multi-system Class 407s in France and Belgium had proved much more difficult than anticipated, and ‘the business environment has changed’ with higher track access charges in France and ‘tough competition’.

A DB spokesman told Railway Gazette International that the company ‘is still planning to operate a service from Germany to London. Based on current Siemens estimates, we do not think that the trains will be ready for multiple working in Belgium and France before 2016. This is a prerequisite to move forward with our planning for the London service.’

DB displayed a Class 406 high speed trainset at London’s St Pancras International terminus in October 2010. At that time, DB Chairman Rüdiger Grube said that he expected Frankfurt – London services to launch in 2013. Since then the timescale has regularly slipped, and there has been no word on how DB might deal with the cost and complexity of the border controls required for operation to the UK.