Köln - Frankfurt shuttles launch 300 km/h running
Ralf Roman Rossberg reports on service plans for German Railway's high speed line between Köln and Frankfurt
GERMAN RAILWAY has announced that from August 1 passengers will be able to travel between Köln Hbf and Frankfurt Hbf in record time. Trains formed of ICE3 sets will depart every two hours, with all trains calling at Frankfurt Airport and some stopping selectively at the intermediate stations at Siegburg-Bonn, Montabaur and Limburg Süd. Assuming that sufficient trains are available, services will be stepped up to run every hour from September.
Typical timings will be 70min between the two main stations compared with 2h 14min over the existing route through Koblenz, but runs from Köln to Frankfurt Airport are expected to take just 55min. Detailed timetables have not yet been publicised, as the testing programme has encountered problems with wheel wear caused by dust in the tunnels and with the ICE3's eddy-current braking.
Despite this, DB has announced that a €12 supplement will be charged to ride the shuttles, and that reservations will be compulsory. DB says the higher price is justified by the much shorter journey time, marking another break with distance-based fares ahead of the market-based pricing structure being launched with the new timetable in December. Distance over the current route is 222 km compared with just 177 km on the new line.
Because of the 4% grades where the line passes through the Siebengebirge, Westerwald and Taunus hills, all services will be formed of ICE3 units. DB has 50 sets, Netherlands Railways a further four, and DB has ordered 13 more for delivery after 2004. DB's units are currently being fitted with more seats in second class to increase capacity.
Seven routes will operate from December 15, providing a frequent service between Köln and Frankfurt:
- Münster - Essen - Köln - Frankfurt;
- Dortmund - Essen - Köln - Frankfurt;
- Dortmund - Essen - Köln - Frankfurt - München;
- Dortmund - Hagen - Köln - Frankfurt - Basel;
- Köln - Wiesbaden - Stuttgart;
- Brussels - Aachen - Köln - Frankfurt;
- Amsterdam - Köln - Frankfurt.
Cross-platform interchange will be provided at Mannheim between the München and Basel services.
- CAPTION: An ICE3 test train pauses at Montabaur