Another intensively flown city pair, London-Frankfurt, could gain frequent high speed rail links in the near future.
On October 19 a German Railways ICE Inter City express is due to arrive at London St Pancras via the Channel Tunnel to test and demonstrate its compatibility with the Eurostar network that serves Paris and Brussels.
This story in The Guardian goes into the technical details.
In the broader context, this means London could have a rail link to Frankfurt that is superior to air services for most potential travellers at least a year sooner, in 2013, than Paris.
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The Paris-Frankfurt high speed connection depends on the completion in 2014 of a new high speed rail corridor which currently reaches as far as Paris-Strasbourg.
The proposed Frankfurt-London link would be operated by extending the existing Frankfurt-Cologne-Brussels ICE services onto the Brussels-London route operated by Eurostar.
In fact you can go all the way by train from London to Frankfurt today by changing trains in Brussels, but according to rail fan reports, the connections and frequency aren’t optimal, and same train service is always easier to sell.
Although Frankfurt’s main airport is well connected to the city, and trip times seem on paper to be slightly faster by air, it takes no more than 30 minutes to check-in at St Pancras compared to more than two hours getting to and then checking in at London’s Gatwick or Heathrow airports.
It is fair to surmise that most Australians who are keen to see high speed rail become a reality in this country have acquired the passion by using the fastest trains of European and Japan, and that those who need to travel between Europe and the UK will welcome another way of avoiding the airlines.
The Guardian story also raises the prospect of the ICE service using Stratford East, the new London Olympics venue station, rather than St Pancras, which might help high speed rail compete with the small but handy London City airport for customers because of the opportunity to exchange passengers with Eurostar for Paris, Frankfurt and Brussels at Lille on the French side of the Channel.
It would also take future pressure off St Pancras, which is going to run short of platform slots for Eurostar services in the medium term if growth in the use of rail between London and Paris continues to rise strongly.
By special request: ICE at St Pancras