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German trains to run through Kent...but not stop

Deutsche Bahn chairman Rudiger Grube with ICE3 train at St Pancras International.
Deutsche Bahn chairman Rudiger Grube with ICE3 train at St Pancras International.

German trains are to start running through Kent, possibly in time for the Olympic Games, but are unlikely to stop in the county.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) - German railways - has confirmed its plan to operate trains between Frankfurt/Cologne/Amsterdam and St Pancras International. The move follows the opening of High Speed 1 to competition.

A DB ICE3 200mph train made its inaugural journey to St Pancras International this week (18/19) and was on show to VIPs, including Transport Minister Theresa Villiers, and media.

But DB chairman Dr Rudiger Grube said the trains would not initially stop at Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International. “It is a little bit too early. Let’s go with the first step. At this point in time, I should not promise something I cannot deliver.”

But he did not rule out stops for all time. “There is no doubt that sometime we must think about the other stations.”

Paul Chapman, managing director of High Speed 1, said the railway was a catalyst for regeneration and he would be making the case to DB and other operators about the benefits of stopping in Kent. “But ultimately it is a commercial decision. It’s up to every business in Kent to continue to support the regeneration and make the case.”

Sim (corr) Harris, editor of Railnews, was not hopeful.

Ebbsfleet and Ashford International stations were not doing as well as Eurostar would like, he claimed. “If they aren’t doing that well for trains to Paris and Brussels, why on earth should they do well with trains to Frankfurt?”

DB expects its new Siemens trains to enter service by the end of 2013, but has not ruled out an earlier launch, perhaps in times for the Olympic Games in 2012.

he London-Cologne journey will take less than four hours, and Frankfurt to London in around five. Amsterdam will take less than four hours.
Meanwhile, Eurostar sought to counter the publicity for DB by offering 80,000 tickets at the special price of £89 to Cologne or Amsterdam. They are for travel between November 19 and January 29.

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