DB running trains from London to Germany - any progress?

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by jon0844, 5 Sep 2017.

  1. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I doubt anyone could start by running too many services per day, but imagine there was a fairly regular service and the benefits for first class passengers with flexible tickets to just turn up and go, unlike at an airport which requires getting to the airport, clearing enhanced security (not really the same at St Pancras) and getting to the gate etc.

    The time saved there could more than make up for the extra time on the train, as well as the benefits of getting on the train and getting comfortable without the take off/landing preparation.

    If people considered the door to door times, I am sure they'd accept train journeys of 5 or 6 hours without much fuss. Of course, people rarely count the time taken to get to an airport, or even the cost of doing so.

    Obviously not everyone lives right next to St Pancras either, but I do think a city centre has many benefits (especially for those who may go to London for work, then travel from an office to St Pancras and onwards, and vice versa) and shouldn't be underestimated.

    As I said, to truly compete you probably need a regular service and that gives you the chicken and egg scenario. You can't just start with that, and if you had just one or two trains a day then the flexibility goes and people may just stick with flying.
     
  2. paddington

    paddington Member

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    I think you misunderstand the business market.

    Business travellers don't want to take a train that arrives in Frankfurt at noon (or vice versa). If they need to get up at 4am anyway, they want to take a flight that gets them to their meetings before 10am and gives them most of the working day before flying back at 6pm and getting home at 8pm. You can't do a day trip on a 6 hour train.

    Sure, you can work from the train with wifi once through the tunnel, but the point of travelling is to meet colleagues in person. Yes there might be some business demand for a later train in the day and then an overnight followed by meetings the next day, I guess it will depend on the fares, reliability and schedule options.

    There may also be a market for a night train, but obviously we would need to see how the day train does before even thinking about it.


    Sorry but this is rubbish, the international border between the UK and the Schengen Area is the same as any other international border. Eurostar is used by many non-EU citizens.

    The UK already scrutinises all documents closely. Some Schengen countries didn't until recently, but this applied regardless of where you originated from. For example until about 2015 at CDG immigration, officers often didn't even open your passport if it was EU/US/Canada/Australia etc, and they had no way of telling which flight you landed from - it could have been from the UK or an African country as they are all funneled into the same immigration checkpoints.

    A few more travellers may require visas, but tourists who are EU/EEA or UK citizens and most business visitors won't. Yes immigration may take a bit longer and the UK may want to introduce customs checks, which will still only target fewer than 1% of people. Most EU countries don't seem to care about customs - have you ever seen any customs officials at Frankfurt Airport - when arriving from anywhere in the world?


    I can't see the frequency improving beyond the frequency of flights, it can't go more than hourly in any case. Business travellers already have flexibility with their flights.

    You seem to be overestimating the time "wasted" on airport formalities. Particularly at LCY you can turn up 10 minutes before departure and still make it.

    Door to door times would only improve for those who live closer (in transportation terms) to St Pancras than an airport. Transport around FRA is pretty good I'd say.

    IMO the only people who ignore travel times and costs to the airport are those who live in inner London and choose to fly Ryanair from STN. Personally, LGW is the most convenient for me to get to, but LCY is the cheapest.


    I fully support having direct services to Germany though I would probably still fly unless there is a cheap overnight service. But the more travel options there are, the better. Many people will prefer a 6-hour train journey over a 1.5 hour flight; others will need to consider several factors before deciding which one suits them better.
     
  3. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    One design failure- or perhaps deliberate descion? - is that at neither Stratford not Ebbsfleet is it possible to have a simple reversal. Ideally it would be possible at each for a train arriving from the tunnel to empty out, shunt into a reversing siding between the tracks and shunt back into the departure platform. I think from Stratford it would take multiple reversals or a trip to St Pancras and back.

    If the stations had been designed with easy termination, then the idea of a "low cost" operation might have been more attractive?
     
  4. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    The important thing for business travellers is arrival time at outbound destination, not necessarily departure time. Departure time is more important on the return trip. And whilst some will do Frankfurt for a day, many (probably the majority) will stay overnight.

    Flights from London to Frankfurt are concentrated almost exclusively at LHR and LCY, and split between BA and Lufthansa. The latter has hourly departures from LHR from 0630 to 1130, then 1330, before going hourly from 1630 to 1930. BA have late morning and lunchtime departures too. So there clearly is a market for arriving at Frankfurt in the afternoon. There is also a clear market for returning from Frankfurt mid afternoon / early evening which a train would be well placed to cater for as the time zones work in favour.

    Also, with airport choice limited on the London side, people in certain areas of the Home Counties will have to leave home 3-4 hours before flight time to get to LHR in good time. For those who can get to St Pancras or Ebbsfleet in under an hour, that makes the train look pretty competitive. Not that I ever need to go to Frankfurt, but with a 5h through train, my door to door would be about 6h to central Frankfurt by train, and 5h30 by plane (allowing 90 mins from HEx platform to flight time at LHR).

    There is, however, no prospect of a night service.
     
    Last edited: 11 Sep 2017
  5. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I've flown from London City and know how convenient that is, but I suspect most don't.. and isn't the future of the airport in doubt anyway? Once Crossrail opens, it may well be even harder to keep it open.

    We will of course see.

    If everything revolves around a day trip then you have a point, and I've done three day trips so far to Germany (Berlin twice and Munich, plus Munich again next month), but I personally detest getting picked up by Addison Lee at 2am and getting home at gone midnight. I don't choose the airport, so it may be Luton or it may be Gatwick.

    It will be another option, not a replacement. People will choose the most convenient as they do already (changing at Brussels, thus proving a market already exists).
     
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I think this may well be because a lot of people will be in a position to say they simply aren't going to travel for a 10am meeting in another country if it means having to get up at 1 or 2am and get themselves to an airport, then try and be productive. No doubt having to go to work the following day.

    When I agree to meetings in London, I tend to say I would prefer mid-morning or afternoon, so as to avoid rush hour. Not everyone has that luxury and must do what they're told, but the cost savings (taxi, peak train fares) may play a part in businesses thinking it makes more sense to do it over two days.

    Even if a hotel room has to be booked, it may still be cheaper (especially businesses that use a good business travel agent) and employees may be more productive.

    I rarely work on planes as they're inherently more cramped, but can get very comfortable on an Intercity train - even in standard class. Eurostar is also good enough for many in standard.
     
  7. Richard_B

    Richard_B Member

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    It may work if there is a reasonable demand for the ability to work the morning on the train on the way to Germany, then get half a day in the afternoon there, then 1 or 2 full days there followed by a 5-6pm departure back to London. I can see why people would prefer this to a 2 day trip with flights. But the single day travllers won't be using it.
     
  8. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    LCY has a bright future, indeed they have recently confirmed that they are dropping nearly £400m on extending the terminal and constructing a new taxiway that will significantly increase capacity. It has basically picked up the growth in near Europe (incl some domestic) flights that LHR could not / would not accommodate as the latter has been going for long haul.

    Crossrail won't make much difference.
     
  9. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Indeed. Hence my estimate that a service of 3-4 trains a day each way, with a 5h journey time would pick up about 20% of the London-Frankfurt market, ie approx 350k pax per year.

    Add in the benefit of a 4h journey time to Köln, which could pick up a third of the London Köln / Bonn traffic, and that's half a million London - Germany trips a year. 10k a week. 700 each way a day. It would have to be an add on to Brussels services, but almost certainly worth chasing for c£50m extra revenue a year.
     
  10. BahrainLad

    BahrainLad Member

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    The reason BA fly Heathrow - Frankfurt in the afternoon is to deposit passengers who have arrived in Heathrow earlier in the day from somewhere else, probably the US West Cost. Similarly a Lufthansa flight from London arriving mid to late afternoon will be feeding passengers on to the evening flights to the Indian subcontinent or Asia. I doubt there is much O&D traffic for business at these times of day.
     
  11. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Surely the reason BA fly mid afternoon is to get the aircraft to Frankfurt for the home bound leg? And as they have seats to sell, they will price accordingly.

    Re connections - clearly there will be some of that, although Frankfurt has direct flights from all the main US West Coast airports including San Jose and Portland. Re Asia etc I can't think of many places that have a better service from Heathrow via Frankfurt than direct from Heathrow, although no doubt there are some.
     
  12. Olaf

    Olaf Member

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    DB dropped their proposals a year or two ago - costs and obstruction/objections from the French killed the idea (not that it was financially viable in the first place, and it was never clear if it had the full backing of DB rather than just that of a few senior people). No prospect of a re-launch by DB as far as I am aware from the last check.

    If the source is valid, it could be a third party, but I have not seen anything.
     
    Last edited: 18 Sep 2017
  13. Gadget88

    Gadget88 Member

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    Could Euro star not explore the possibility of trains to Germany?
     
  14. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    If another operator does, they would. In fact before DB went cold on the idea I thought they planned to do it?
     
  15. Olaf

    Olaf Member

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    Thalys is the main operator of cross-boarder services between France and Germany; look to the ownership, and that of Eurostar. Competitive services unlikely, and would be in name only.

    For a direct service between London and German cities to get off the ground, it would most likely need to be set in motion by a third part such as from Austria, or Italy. Only then would I expect to see any motivation from euroStar.
     
  16. Gadget88

    Gadget88 Member

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    I noticed this link a while back

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Eurostar-launches-flexible-tickets-to-German-cities/

    You can change at Brussels. I would ever have thought Euro star would go to Amsterdam and 20 odd years later it will. I reckon they will eventually find some direct service to Germany as there is a demand for trains especially in the UK with the new high speed line planned.
     
  17. ooo

    ooo Member

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    Thalys are also one of the main operators from Brussels to Amsterdam yet Eurostar are going to start services
     
  18. Olaf

    Olaf Member

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    Yes, to fill service gaps.
     

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