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"Europe's hub' gets even better

Some cities are famous for their cultural life, others for history or night life. Frankfurt, perhaps unjustly, is famous primarily for its airport.

Because of this city's central location in Europe and its role as Germany's financial center, the airport is one of Europe's biggest and busiest hubs.

The airport is huge, it is efficient and in all of Europe, only London's Heathrow has so many direct daily connections to the rest of the world.

Now, the Frankfurt airport is expanding its connections.

Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway, is finishing an airport station for high-speed intercity trains heading for scores of other European cities.

The new station, which was to be completed by the end of the year, will let air travelers hop directly onto trains rather than haul their baggage onto a subway to the main train station downtown.

The railway is also developing an advanced luggage-handling system that will eventually let people boarding a train in certain cities, such as Munich or Hanover, check their bags straight through to New York or Paris.

In 2002, Deutsche Bahn expects to complete a new high-speed track between Frankfurt and Cologne.

For most travelers, that will make it far cheaper and almost as fast to travel by train as by plane from Frankfurt to cities with smaller airports, such as Dusseldorf, Cologne or Stuttgart.

Though most travelers come to Frankfurt either for business or for connections to other European cities, the Frankfurt Ballet has long been one of this city's genuinely world-class cultural attractions.

Under the leadership of William Forsythe, the New York-born artistic director, who has worked in Frankfurt since 1984, the ballet has become internationally recognized for its avant-garde productions.

Now Forsythe is expanding his reach. Though he remains artistic director of the Frankfurt Ballet, he was recently named to head this city's Teater am Turm, or TAT.

Situated in a former trolley-car station, the TAT has a reputation for experimental productions under directors including Werner Fassbinder and Claus Peymann.

Forsythe's goal is to revitalize the theater by blending dance, drama and musical performances under one roof, and to strengthen its financing.

If he and his associates live up to their track records, the results will almost certainly be original.