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Green light

December 16, 2009

German rail company Deutsche Bahn can now use its high-speed ICE trains to carry travelers through the Channel Tunnel. The decision paves the way for greater competition in the European rail sector.

A Deutsche Bahn ICE train
Until now, Deutsche Bahn trains were not permitted to take travelers through the tunnelImage: AP

Deutsche Bahn has been given the green light to carry passengers through the Channel Tunnel on its high-speed Inter-City Express (ICE) trains, the head of the Eurotunnel group announced in a press report on Wednesday.

"Deutsche Bahn fulfills all the conditions for transporting passengers via the tunnel," Jacques Gounon told the Financial Times Deutschland, adding that the German railway company was now welcome to do so.

The German company had previously been banned from using the tunnel because its trains did not meet special fire safety regulations, but that ban has now been lifted, a Eurotunnel spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Freight train leaving the tunnel on the French side
The Eurotunnel allows trains to travel underneath the English ChannelImage: presse

The move is expected to increase competition in European rail sector. Until now Eurostar trains controlled by the French national railway SNFC were the only services permitted to carry passengers through the 38-kilometer (24-mile) tunnel linking France and Britain.

The high-speed Eurostar services link London, Brussels and Paris Brussels via the tunnel, and are owned by SNCF, Belgian railway SNCB and Eurostar Ltd, which is a subsidiary of London and Continental Railways.

Meanwhile, Eurotunnel bosses are reportedly looking to sell a 40 percent stake in their London & Continental rail company.

Editor: Sam Edmonds

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