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Expatriates living in Germany could be travelling to and from the UK via the Channel Tunnel by 2016 after a move to open up the infrastructure to Deutsche Bahn.
Authorities in both Britain and France have agreed to allow the German transport organisation to run services through the tunnel.
Eurotunnel, the company that operates the Channel Tunnel, made the announcement about this significant change.
Its chairman and chief executive, Jacques Gounon, said: "Twenty years after the start of commercial services, the authorities have finally opened the Channel Tunnel to all."
In future it is likely that more people will travel between the UK and Germany and the Netherlands using the tunnel, with some estimates suggesting it will bring another four million passengers onto the train.
At present ten million people a year use the high-speed services to get to the continent for holidays and to visit relatives.
When the plans to open the Channel Tunnel up to Deutsche Bahn were originally proposed it was thought that services may start this year.
The organisation itself has delayed the implementation of direct services from London to Frankfurt until 2016.
A three-year study was undertaken by the Intergovernmental Commission before a decision was made on whether Deutsche Bahn would be granted permission to route trains through the tunnel.
In a statement from Eurotunnel the changes that would need to be put in place were identified as "adjustments to the timetable and modifications to the paths through the tunnel".
A trial run saw Deutsche Bahn drive a train through the tunnel to St Pancras International station in 2010.
Eurotunnel collects a fee for each train that travels through the tunnel. At present these are owned by Eurostar, which belongs to SNCF – the French train company.
Mr Gounon summarised: "This is wonderful news for the millions of passengers in northern Europe who can now use this most environmentally friendly means of transport to travel to London."
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