Map of planned expansion.

EUROPE: 'This autumn we will send an ICE3 test train through the tunnel beneath the English Channel as part of our preparations for possible train service to London', Deutsche Bahn Chairman & CEO Dr Rüdiger Grube said during his presentation of the German national rail company's half-year results on July 28.

Grube said DB is also in talks with SNCF to launch a passenger service from Frankfurt to Lyon and Marseille from 2012, and will organise a Swiss-German rail summit in the second half of this year to build on the July 9 memorandum of understanding to expand cross-border traffic in partnership with SBB.

DB has been interested in operating international passenger services to London for some time. ICE3 trainsets do not meet current rules for carrying passengers through the Channel Tunnel, however the four-system Class 407 Velaro D trainset unveiled at Siemens' Krefeld plant in April was developed specifically for international services, and includes additional fire safety measures.

Earlier this year a review by the Intergovernmental Commission which oversees Channel Tunnel safety recommended permitting the use of non-splitable trainsets and rolling stock complying with the fire safety requirements of the European Technical Specification for Interoperability rather than existing Channel Tunnel-specific rules. It will also consider permitting trains shorter than the current 375 m minimum length, subject to having suitable evacuation procedures in place.