French train company SNCF and its German counterpart Deutsche Bahn are to launch a direct TGV (high-speed train service) between Paris and Berlin.
CEO of SNCF, Jean-Pierre Farandou, made the announcement to AFP during a visit to Strasbourg. He was there to celebrate 15 years of Franco-German TGV cooperation.
He said: “It makes sense because we see that people are willing to make longer and longer journeys [by train]. There are really people who are prepared to stay five, six, or seven hours on a train.
“In this case, Paris-Berlin is seven hours. A few years ago people thought that was a bit too long of a journey and we worried we would have no take-up, but there are more and more people who don’t see it as a problem, and so much the better.
“We, with our German colleagues, are going to try it, and run this train.”
The initial service will run one return journey via Frankfurt per day, operated with Deutsche Bahn trains. It will launch in December 2023. A second service using SNCF carriages may then be added.
Mr Farandou said: "It is quite symbolic in the evolution of our society, and many people’s growing preference for the train.”
Similar services proving very popular
He explained that current similar services, such as those between Paris-Milan and Paris-Barcelona, have “stunningly-high occupancy levels”. Despite the service from Paris-Milan doubling due to the arrival of Italian train company Trenitalia, “the trains are still full”, he said.
SNCF is also set to help launch a night train between Paris and Berlin, operated by the Austrian railway ÖBB, also in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn, from the end of 2023.
Mr Farandou said: “It will launch at the same time, day and night. People will be able to choose which they prefer.”
Deutsche Bahn CEO, Richard Lutz, co-presented the announcement, saying: “I am convinced that we need more railways in Europe, and a strong Europe needs a strong interconnection on the rails. [Railways] are essential to achieve our climate objectives.”
SNCF and Deutsche Bahn have worked together since the opening of the first section of the TGV line between Paris-Strasbourg in 2007.
Since then, the two companies have carried 25 million passengers between Paris-Frankfurt (getting there faster than the same journey by plane), Paris-Stuttgart-Munich and Frankfurt-Marseille.
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