Deutsche Bahn and SNCF are planning a fast direct connection between Berlin and Paris. In addition, the high-speed ICE and TGV trains between Frankfurt and Stuttgart and Paris, which started 15 years ago, are to be expanded, both railways announced on Tuesday in Strasbourg.

There are also talks about other high-speed connections from Germany to southern France. The railway bosses of both countries, DB CEO Richard Lutz, and SNCF President Jean-Pierre Farandou, signed an agreement to expand the connections.

“The high-speed traffic between Germany and France is an outstanding example of how attractive connections promote cross-border traffic on the rails,” said DB boss Lutz. “Our planned new direct connection between the hearts of our two capitals will inspire even more people to travel by train.”

The new connection is scheduled to start at the end of 2023 or in the course of 2024. The future travel time from Berlin via Frankfurt and Strasbourg to Paris should be around seven hours. In 2021, half of the travelers between Frankfurt and Paris would have opted for the train instead of the plane, the railways said. According to traveler data, there were even nine out of ten travelers between Stuttgart and Paris.

So far, there are six times a day from Frankfurt to Paris, four times via Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken, twice via Karlsruhe and Strasbourg. Five trains commute between Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Strasbourg and Paris. The TGV Frankfurt-Marseille runs once a day. The railways have not yet been able to say how many additional trains will be on which routes in the future.

The expansion of the Saarbrücken-Ludwigshafen route is expected to be completed by 2025, which will enable shorter travel times on the route. The connection from Cologne to Paris, on which trains run exclusively by the SNCF subsidiary Thalys, remains excluded from the German-French high-speed traffic.

Special tickets are required for these express trains. An integration into the tariff system of DB and SNCF in cross-border traffic is not planned, it said. Significant improvements are also planned from the end of 2024 in regional transport between the French border region and Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg.