The German railway Deutsche Bahn announced Wednesday it will test a high-speed train in the Channel Tunnel between France and Britain on October 19, a move that could spur rail competition in Europe.
A Deutsche Bahn ICE train will be allowed to run through the tunnel, reserved until now for the Eurostar owned by railways in Belgium, Britain and France, Deutsche Bahn chief Ruediger Grube said.
The German railway has asked repeatedly for access to the tunnel with an eye towards establishing a high-speed rail link between the financial centres of London and Frankfurt.
Deutsche Bahn is also interested in expanding its network elsewhere in Europe, including possible service from Frankfurt to Lyon and Marseille in southern France, but has met resistance from the French national railway SNCF.
The German group has called repeatedly for access to routes in France as the French company Veolia Transport has risen among the ranks of private transport companies operating in Germany.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn has won European Union approval for its purchase of the British company Arriva for 1.8 billion euros (2.3 billion dollars).
On Tuesday, the French and German transport ministries released a joint statement saying they had agreed to work together on changes to European rules covering rail and air transport.
The statement said the move was aimed at "eliminating bureaucratic obstacles, accelerating processus and reducing costs."