Channel Tunnel in German high-speed train test

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A German ICE train
Image caption,
Deutsche Bahn hopes to link London and Cologne by 2013

The German railway, Deutsche Bahn, says it has held its first test of a high-speed train carrying passengers in the Channel Tunnel.

Currently only Eurostar is allowed to operate on the route but the German firm is keen to widen competition.

Eurostar is a subsidiary of railway operators in the UK, France and Belgium but the German railway has asked repeatedly for access to the tunnel.

It has said it hopes to run services to Frankfurt and Cologne within the next three years.

Deutsche Bahn sent one of its ICE-3 trains into the tunnel for the first time last week - but Saturday night's test was the first with some passengers.

Trains passing through the tunnel have to be long enough to allow people anywhere on board to be able to reach emergency exits in the tunnel.

Rolling stock row

The firm is also interested in expanding its network elsewhere in Europe, including a possible service from Frankfurt to Lyon and Marseille in southern France, but has met resistance from the French national railway SNCF.

France has also objected to Eurostar's recent announcement that it was ordering new trains worth more than £700m from German firm Siemens.

France had been pressing for the new trains to be built by French firm Alstom . On Thursday, France's transport minister insisted the order was null and void, saying only rolling stock made by Alstom met safety standards.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bahn bought British company Arriva, which operates buses and trains across 12 European countries. It also runs Chiltern Railways and rail freight services in the UK.

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