GERMAN politicians may not like the way Gordon Brown is running the British economy but the German state-owned railway, Deutsche Bahn, seems to like the way the British run their trains. It already owns Chiltern, with its London-Midlands lines, and London Overground and through its purchase of EWS it controls two-thirds of Britain's goods trains. Now Deutsche Bahn is talking about taking over the UK's one-third stake in Eurostar. At the moment France has 62 percent of Eurostar stock and Belgium the remaining five per cent. Although passenger numbers on Eurostar have increased from 6.6. million in 2002 to nine million this year they are still considerably below the forecast of 20 million per year predicted for the mid-1990s when the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was approved. Deutsche Bahn thinks that Eurostar could be more efficiently operated but also has its eye on the advantages of owning a UK link to its already established international services which reach from Amsterdam to Poland and Hungary and from Copenhagen to Zurich. Its stated ambition to become “the world's leading passenger and logistics company” will be helped by European Union legislation coming into force in 2010 that will enable train companies to run services across the EU without having first to negotiate agreements with member states. It's ironic that most of Deutsche Bahn's operating links are with state-owned railways like itself. Britain, which once had British Rail, now has a network of privatised companies.

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