Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Moving onwards

Posted in Europe, Great Britain, High Speed by Chairman Pip on 21 June 2010

Two things have occured in the last few days to cause hope that other operators will have an opportunity before too much longer to access the route to London via High Speed 1. The first saw Eurostar receive permission from the European Commission to restructure itself into a single company (rather than the consortium it was before). However, this approval was conditional on Eurostar allowing access to London St Pancras, Paris Nord and Bruxelles Midi, and to light maintenance facilities, for other potential operators. The second is that the Department for Transport has put HS1 up for sale. This means that the route will be managed by an infrastructure operator, in much the same way as Network Rail does with the rest of the network in Britain, and thus it will be up to the infrastructure operator and the Office of Rail Regulation to decide who can operate trains on the line. So, it would seem then that it’s only a matter of time before all those enterprising operators get a chance to run their trains from London. All that they need now are some actual trains. And that’s the crux of the matter. Although, as I’ve said before, some of the safety rules have been relaxed, it’s still the case that trains have to be a certain length to be allowed to operate in the Channel Tunnel. The new Siemens Velaro D has been designed to operate in the tunnel, but Deutsche Bahn do not want to purchase 16 car length trains. Whether any other prospective operator would be prepared to fork out for brand new 16-car trains, with the possibility that somewhere down the line the rules will be relaxed further to allow shorter trains to use the tunnel, is open to debate. Nevertheless, the movement of the last few days are a cause for optimism.

“High-speed London to Folkestone rail link up for sale”
“Eurostar gets EU restructuring approval, but faces cross-Channel rail competition”

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