The German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, recently released more details about their plans to start running trains through the Channel Tunnel to London.
Details of Deutsche Bahn into London
According to the announcement, trains will start running from Frankfurt to London "during 2013", which unfortunately is probably intentionally a bit vague, but promising all the same.
The trains will run on the same line from London to Brussels, and then two routes will go out from there, one on to Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the other on to Germany, specifically Cologne and Frankfurt. This sounds pretty promising, as the estimates they are quoting at the moment suggest that the journey time to Frankfurt will be around 5 hours, and 4 hours to Amsterdam. According to the data we have shown on the air vs rail share based on journey time, that suggests that the Frankfurt route will perhaps only take about 15% of the air market on that route. However, Cologne (taking 4 hours) will take approximately a third of the traffic from London. The Amsterdam route should take about one-third of the total travel market as well.
Impact on European Travel
Although I'm not suggesting that this one extra train is going to revolutionalize the transportation market in Europe, I do think it is a significant indicator of what is to come for travel within Europe. As our chart shows, consumers do tend to start taking trains much more regularly when the journey times can be minimized. As more and more of the major European cities are joined by comfortable and convenient high-speed rail links, we think that more and more of both the business and leisure channels will shift towards rail from air. I think the expansion of the Deutsche Bahn network to cover an increasingly complete footprint of Europe is a key indicator of this shift beginning to occur.