The UK could be connected to Germany via high-speed rail by 2013, making function venues in London even more accessible to European businesses.
According to a report by the Guardian, this week saw the first dry-run of a 200mph train operated by state-owned German railway company Deustche Bahn (DB) to London’s St Pancras. Once safety tests have been passed, DB plans to run a high-speed rail service from the heart of Germany’s financial sector in Frankfurt to London via the channel tunnel, with possible stops at Cologne and Brussels under consideration.
Once the service begins, it is expected to carry more than 1 million passengers per year and grow the high-speed rail market between London and the EU by 10%.
Already, many international companies will choose a conference venue in London over one on the continent due to its location in a central time zone and the ease of access from both Atlantic and trans-continental locations. One of the most important components in the international travel infrastructure is the Eurostar connection at London’s St Pancras.
Since it opened in 1994, the Eurostar service to Paris and Brussels has made it easy for those on the continent to travel to a conference venue in London without the need for an extended stay. Today it carries more than 9 million passengers and commands more than three quarters of the air and rail market between London and the capitals of France and Belgium; with the introduction of DB’s ICE3 train service, this traffic could be expanded to include Germany and by extension, a wider cross-section of Europe’s eastern nations.
The new service will reportedly stretch the rail industry maxim of keeping journeys faster than equivalent flights. Rather than the ideal of three hours, DB’s service will take four to five hours to travel between between Europe’s two largest financial hubs. However with the ease of broadband access, cheaper fares and the recent memories of the ash-cloud disruption, DB is hoping that rail will be a more appealing option for both business and private passengers.