New London to Paris hopefuls boost European rail travel

Those looking for Europe's best rail travel to rival flying have received a boost with the resumption of night trains between Paris and Berlin this month. Similarly, there is good news for travelers passing under the English Channel, as a number of new railway companies are committed to operating this route.

The Biden administration this month announced more than $8 billion in investments to improve U.S. rail lines, particularly high-speed sections across California and Nevada, the largest investment since Amtrak was founded more than 50 years ago. It's an investment. Across the Atlantic, the Paris-Berlin night train has returned with much fanfare after being out of service for nine years.

This may not be the most luxurious rail route across Europe. That prize will likely go to his three-night Venice Simplon to Orient Express trip, which also stops in Portofino, the jewel of the Italian Riviera, starting in summer 2024. But fortunately, many new services starting in Europe don't come with an $8,500 price tag.

This train is the obvious choice for those who value the economy of traveling overnight in sleeping cars across Europe, leaving Berlin at 8:18pm and arriving at 10:00 the next morning in time for freshly baked croissants. I will arrive in time. There's still time to catch the Eurostar and have lunch in London if you wish. Operated by Austrian railway operator ÖBB, it also operates a follow-on train from Berlin to Vienna. The new night train runs three times a week, but is scheduled to run daily by next fall.

Early tickets sold out almost immediately. Demand is rising across Europe as ecological trends turn in favor of railways. All EU member states must find their own ways to meet stricter environmental targets to reduce carbon emissions, and the EU says it will double high-speed rail travel by 2030. We have ambitious plans. This week, the EU signed preliminary legislation to implement trans-European transport. The network (TEN-T) works seamlessly from country to country with no interruptions or missing links. Many countries, including France, have taken individual measures, such as banning air flights in areas with rail lines lasting less than two-and-a-half hours.

The biggest problem is price and bottlenecks. Adding new air service is relatively easy, but rail lines (especially new ones) require billions of dollars of investment and a lot of time. Then there's the issue of different truck sizes and, in the UK's case, the need to process passengers through immigration at a faster rate than it currently does.

Eurostar, which runs high-speed trains from London to Paris, is currently unable to process travelers through terminals and border controls fast enough. There are not enough staff to load each train with 900 people by departure time, and many stations are unable to load passengers in time. It is reported that this is because King's Cross St Pancras does not have enough space to expand to accommodate a larger fleet. CNN. Eurostar will suspend its London-Amsterdam service for six months from June 2024 as it renovates its Dutch hub.

But the Dutch startup plans to launch a new Amsterdam-Paris-London route from 2028 that will compete with Eurostar and cut costs and make it cheaper. Virgin Trains founder Richard Branson has reportedly said he wants to compete with Eurostar, which connects London and Paris. In addition, Spanish startup Evolin also plans to compete with Eurostar on the same routes as early as 2025.

A lot of work needs to be done to get trains approved to meet regulations to operate within the Channel Tunnel. There are very strict standards to meet indoor and outdoor fire regulations, and trains must meet safety and power regulations in some cases in multiple countries. Startups are also often constrained by backlogs of reservations held by train builders such as Siemens and Alstom, and by finding routes for trains to travel through crowded cities such as Paris.

The UK has half as many rail lines (10,000 miles) compared to its European neighbors France (18,500 miles) and Germany (nearly 21,000 miles), expanding its open rail network across Europe. It will inevitably become easier to do so. QBuzz, a subsidiary of Italian National Railways, is also planning to expand and operate new routes: Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris and Amsterdam-Cologne-Frankfurt.

If you're planning a train trip in Europe, check out the UK's times has an interactive map showing where you can travel by train from London depending on your journey time.

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