DEUTSCHE Bahn will be running trains to London within two years, according to the chief executive of Eurotunnel. DB is also poised to conclude a takeover deal for Arriva.
Eurotunnel CEO Jacques Gounon was speaking at the launch of a Eurotunnel windfarm at Coquelles, near the French portal.
He told reporters that he expected DB to be running to St Pancras International by Olympics year, 2012. Reuters has reported that he said: “Deutsche Bahn has a real willingness. We can trust a house that powerful. When they decide to do something they do it.”
There had been speculation that DB would be at the forefront of competitors for Eurostar, following the introduction of open access on international routes at the start of the year. Eurostar has already said it would welcome competition.
Although it is likely that DB would introduce additional routes between London and Germany, it could also compete directly on the London-Paris corridor as well. Trains to and from Germany are likely to run via Brussels, which could also end Eurostar's rail monopoly between Britain and Belgium.
Meamwhile, DB is well on the way to announcing a deal to acquire Arriva, which has become a major European transport group. It's expected that shares will change hands for around £1.6 billion. The DB Supervisory Board is meeting today and is expected to confirm the offer.
Arriva had been in takeover talks with French operator SNCF, but these ended inconclusively last month.
If the DB takeover goes ahead as expected, DB will become the operator of CrossCountry and Arriva Trains Wales, as well as numerous bus companies in several parts of Britain. The transfer of franchise ownership will require the formal approval of the Department for Transport, but is unlikely to be refused.