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London-Frankfurt launch postponed due to Siemens delays

The launch of London-Frankfurt high-speed services has been pushed back due to Siemens’ delay in supplying 16 ICE 3 trains to Deutsche Bahn.

Berthold Huber, chief executive of DB Fernverkehr, Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance passenger train division, told reporters: “Our customers feel let down by Siemens. You have to keep in mind that we ordered the trains in 2008 and were promised delivery last December.”

DB originally wanted to run London-Frankfurt trains for the 2012 Olympics, but then pushed the start date back to 2013 – but further delays mean the service will not now be launched until at least 2016.

The company plans to run three 200mph services a day of two coupled train sets between London St Pancras and Brussels, which will uncouple in Brussels, with one set covering the Brussels-Rottedam-Amsterdam stretch and the other the Brussels-Cologne-Frankfurt stretch. London to Frankfurt would take five hours.

The 16 trains, worth €500m, have been found to have software problems during testing.

Siemens said that “everyone involved is working hard to solve the problems that have appeared”, but Deutsche Bahn will be seeking compensation.

Spiegel International reported Voker Kefer, DB’s rail technical director, as saying: “For solid resource scheduling when it comes to our vehicle fleet, we desperately need greater dependability on the part of producers.”

(Image: Deutsche Bahn)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Timh   23/11/2012 at 11:36

Bodes well for Thameslink, doesn't it...

Henry Law   23/11/2012 at 17:42

A three year delay due to software problems? There was a time when the only things running through a train were a pipe for the braking system, and a pipe for the steam heat. Then they added electricity, with a dynamo-battery set under each vehicle and cables from vehicle to vehicle in case of failure. Ventilation systems were passive so didn't break down and door operation was manual with someone on the station platform to check that they were properly shut before the train moved off. Trains like those are of extreme simplicity, inexpensive to construct and maintain, and are within the capacity of part-time amateurs to keep going. And from the passengers' point of view there has been little improvement - on the contrary, they got a comfortable seat, space, and somewhere for their luggage. Later on, into the 1970s other features were added which required a cable with a hundred or so connections but that was manageable too. It brought in features such as retention toilets, power operated doors and air conditioning, which are genuinely useful if they work and a menace when they don't. The first is a matter of basic hygiene but the latter two could certainly be regarded as optional extras. But since then, the complexity has increased exponentially, and so has the cost. The people specifying railway vehicles need to take a good hard look at what is needed and what is not, and how much could be saved, and how reliability could be improved, by simplification, even if it means employing additional staff to do things which have been automated at vast expense. Or running the trains at lower speeds, because high speeds also give rise to hidden costs.

Jim Webster   25/11/2012 at 18:40

This train is going to be at least 5 years late ! Siemens is the Thameslink preferred bidder for purely political reasons and not ' in the public taxpayers interest,' as blatantly lied by Justine Greening. Thameslink is already falling behind as the contracts are not finally signed yet and passengers therefore enduring never ending delays to newer trains to travel on. It is about time Government put the British public first before paying lip service to foreign countries. Remember while this country has rising unemployment and increasing public borrowing, we are still hell bent on giving Germany £1.5 Billion of work while depriving this country a chance to become productive once again.

Pedr Jarvis   06/12/2012 at 21:49

If today's episode at Aachen is typical, Siemens may not be all they once were. An ICE from Koeln to Brussel stopped at Aachen because the voltage change switch would not work. So there were two trainloads of passengers on the succeeding Thalys - I stood the whole distance in the concertina between two coaches and others were worse placed than I.

Ian Mcdonald   07/12/2012 at 14:38

Technical issues with Siemens are not the only problem likely to delay DB's planned services to the UK. Looming larger will be the Home Office and Border Agency's near-certain insistence that segregated platforms be provided at all the relevant DB, NS and SNCB stations to be served by these UK-bound trains, with luggage security checks and passport control before boarding, and no alighting passengers allowed before passing through the Chunnel. What likelihood is there that the operators will overcome this costly and unattractive albatross for their ambitions?

Ed Martin   24/04/2016 at 11:05

components suppliers located where? europe or further east? if they are indeed incompetent then are other systems using their gear being analysed for problems?

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