German railway operator Deutsche Bahn has confirmed it will test its high-speed ICE-3 train in the Channel Tunnel as it considers expanding its European services.
Scheduled for October 19th, the test will allow the national railway company to explore the possibility of establishing a high-speed rail link between the financial centres of London and Frankfurt.
“We have been in talks with Eurotunnel for several months,” Deutsche Bahn chief executive Rüdiger Grube explained.
“In October, we will proceed with a test run in the tunnel with an ICE-3.”
Eurotunnel – which operates the Channel Tunnel – has to date limited competition through the imposition of fixed conditions for trains wishing to use the tunnel, in particular their length.
Deutsche Bahn Intercity-Express trains already link major German cities
The measures have effectively blocked rivals to Eurostar – which presently links London to Brussels and Paris – from using the tunnel.
However, France’s state-owned rival SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and the British group London & Continental Railways have all responded to a call for rival railways to come forward.
The Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission – which is responsible for safety in the tunnel – confirmed it has received the Deutsche Bahn proposal.
The commission will now examine the request before giving Eurotunnel clearance to proceed.
Deutsche Bahn is seeking to expand under chief executive Rüdiger Grube
Deutsche Bahn has repeatedly stated its intention to expand beyond its own borders.
Mr Grube also confirmed the rail operator is in talks with the SNCF about a service from Frankfurt to Lyon and Marseille from 2012.
Deutsche Bahn is also in the process of acquiring British bus and rail operator Arriva.
The company recently presented first-half results, including a 13 per cent increase in sales to €16.1 billion ($21 billion) and a leap of 26 per cent in operating profit to €846 million.
“The economic environment has clearly stabilised,” concluded Mr Grube.