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Rail travel in Europe to get faster




February 25, 2007

Here is good news for those who love to travel by rail in Europe: European rail companies are cutting the time it takes to get from one city to the next.

For example, thanks to a series of new international fast rail projects, taking a train from Edinburgh to Moscow may no longer be unthinkable and perhaps even preferable to flying.

The first rail service to cut travel time is the TGV Est, set to begin service in June 2007.

TGV Est will not only reduce travel time from Paris to Strasbourg nearly in half (to 2 hours and 20 minutes) but also open up fast routes between Paris and cities in eastern France and Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland.

Later, in November 2007, Eurostar is scheduled to open the St Pancras International Station in central London. The completion of Britain’s first high-speed rail line, which will serve the station, will cut the London-Paris journey to 2 hours and 15 minutes and will make travel from northern England and Scotland to the Continent faster.

In the next two years, passengers will also benefit from the completion of a high-speed rail line that will run from Brussels to the German border, an Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam line as well as high-speed lines in Spain, Italy and Germany.

Anticipating a boom in train travel, Eurostar, a part of the Railteam alliance that includes international rail companies in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and France, is working hard to integrate its networks so that travellers booking cross-border journeys will have little waiting time between connections.

“The goal is to make it easier for the traveller to get to Western Europe and beyond,” an official of Eurostar said.
Even simpler is the London-based European Rail, which offers such trips as a 6-day gastronomic tour of France and a 10-day trip to Andalusia, Spain.

The trip to Spain starts at £675 a person, or $1,343, including train tickets and lodging.



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