Railway giant Deutsche Bahn plans to run regular services between London’s St Pancras station and Frankfurt in Germany – which will take only four and a half hours – as well as Amsterdam in Holland.
The decision by authorities follows three years of negotiation and a trial run of a 200mph German bullet train in October 2010 but the service is unlikely to be launched before 2016.
The plan is for three services a day in each direction – each carrying 888 passengers in 16 coaches – on a new generation German cross-channel bullet train.
The trains will split in Brussels with eight carriages carrying 444 passengers heading to Rotterdam and then Amsterdam.
The other eight carriages will head to Cologne and then Frankfurt.
Announcing the new deal, Eurotunnel said: “After three years of detailed study, the Intergovernmental Commission has granted Deutsche Bahn an operating certificate to run passenger services through the Channel Tunnel.
“We believe that this long awaited decision will considerably enhance exchanges between the United Kingdom and northern Europe (Germany, Holland) and will over time add between 3 and 4 million new passengers per year to the 10 million already using the existing high speed passenger services.
“This new chapter requires no additional investment as adjustments to the timetable and modifications to the paths through the Tunnel will suffice to accommodate the new traffic.”
Cross-Channel train services are currently operated by Eurostar, which is majority-owned by French state-owned SNCF.
Eurotunnel gets a fee for each train passing through the tunnel linking Dover to Calais.