ICE vs. TGV
German Railway Launches Friendly Cross-Border Competition with France
TWIG - As the conventional capitalist wisdom goes, competition benefits consumers. A new initiative by the German and French railways is a case in point. Soon, travelers between major German cities and Paris will be able to choose between the German ICE and the French TGV.
German high-speed ICE (InterCityExpress) trains will speed to Paris at 320 kilometers per hour on new billion-euro tracks in France, while its French counterpart TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) is due to cross the river Rhine for the first time.
The upshot for travelers is lower prices and more connections. As gas prices creep steadily upwards, the German Railway hopes to lure travelers to take its long distance trains with special offers starting from 29 euros according to Deutsche Bahn chief Hartmut Mehdorn.
Regardless of which train passengers choose, the
new arrangement will get them to their destinations faster. While a trip
from Frankfurt to Paris once took over six hours, the ICE now reaches Paris
in 4 hours and 11 minutes.
Joining forces for the first time
Until recently, there has been little competition between the two national lines, but presented with the choice of traveling "a la francaise" or "auf Deutsch", may start taking a closer look at the trains.
Karl-Peter Naumann, chair of the passengers' association Pro Bahn, says the ICE is totally up to scratch with is high level of travel comfort, including electrical sockets in first and second class. The French, meanwhile, are updating their TGV to go east with a new interior design - the seats are covered in red and light green, and they will boast additional leg room.
The railways say that the competition will be a friendly one. "Europe's leading railway lines are joining forces for the first time," Mehdorn said during a symbolic opening tour at the end of May.
"Together we will win new customers," his French counterpart Anne- Marie Idrac added.
By 2012, the planners expect a 50 percent increase to an annual 1.5 billion travelers on the international routes.
"Competition keeps you on your toes," says Naumann. Railway expert Heidi Tischmann of Travel Club Germany agrees. "It's good that German travelers realize that there are other long-distance trains, she says."
While Deutsche Bahn competitors have a 15-per-cent
share of the local and regional market, their share in the long-distance
market is less than 1 per cent.
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
questions or comments about this web site.