Eurostar has signed an agreement with two other train operators, Thalys and Germany's ICE to provide high speed link between London and Cologne and Aachen via Brussels.
The trip needs one through ticket bought at London or in Germany and journey times are 4hrs 23minutes to Aachen and 5hrs 2 minutes to Cologne.
The service goes by Eurostar to Brussels Midi and from there by either Thalys, the continental operator connecting France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands or the Deutsche Bahn ICE service to the German cities.
Eurostar said it planned to extend its connections with Germany cities, possibly Frankfurt during 2005.
Paul Charles, its director of communications, said: “This is a major European high-speed rail alliance, benefiting passengers in the UK and Germany.
“Connections are becoming easier and easier thanks to high-speed links across Europe. High-speed rail operators are now a major alternative to short-haul flights.”
* Eurostar said a “large increase” in business travellers and a shift from short haul flights to high speed travel were partly responsible for an increase in passengers for the first quarter of 2005. The operator said figures 1.69m were 5.5% higher than for the same period in 2004.
British airport passengers up
BAA's seven UK airports handled 141.7m passengers in the year ending March 2005, a rise of 6.3% on the previous year.
The fastest growing airport was Southampton which recorded a 12.9% rise in passengers for the year to 1.549m. Heathrow rose 5.3% to 67.654m, Gatwick was up 6.5% to 32m and Stansted showed a 9.1% rise to 21.17m.
The three Scottish airports in the group, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, rose by 6% to 19.347m.
* Frankfurt Airport said its passenger figures in March were 4.2m, a rise of 1.8% compared to March 2004. The German hub said figures for the first quarter of 2005 were 11.1m, a year on year rise of 0.5%.