Calais: A German high-speed train
entered the Channel tunnel between France and England for the
first time today on a test run aiming to rival French-built
trains` monopoly on the route.
The grey ICE3 train, made by Siemens of Germany and
operated by Deutsche Bahn, entered in the French town of
Calais, watched by reporters.
The German operator wants to demonstrate its ability to
run safely on the route, which is being opened up to
competition under EU rules, raising sensitivities in France.
France, which owns 55 per cent of the cross-Channel
Eurostar service, last week reacted angrily to the company`s
decision to buy trains for the route from Siemens instead of
French engineering company Alstom.
The ICE today was the first passenger train not run by
Eurostar, the operator jointly owned by France, Britain and
Belgium, to use the tunnel, running through it at the
regulation 30 km per hour.
It carried drivers and technical staff from German train
company Deutsche Bahn and tunnel operator Eurotunnel, but no
The train went part of the way through the tunnel before
turning back and re-entering France after 10 minutes.
It is to return to the tunnel for safety drills on
Saturday and then travel, towed by another engine, all the way
to London next week.
About nine million passengers now take the train each
year on Eurostar routes between Brussels, London and Paris.