With the fires in Spain and recurring heat waves across Europe, initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have become a priority. According to Euronews, aviation generates almost 14% of emissions, making it the second largest source of GHG emissions from transport after road transport.
In this context, the EU aims to double the use of high-speed rail by 2030 and to triple current levels by 2050. The vision was announced in Lyon, France, on June 29, during the Connecting Europe Days 2022, organized by the European Commission. Several projects will boost the EU’s rail network, including cross-border connections and connections to ports and airports.
More and more people are willing to spend five hours, six hours, seven hours on a train.
Jean-Pierre Farandou, CEO of SNCF
Although the fastest trains in the world run in Japan, Europe has 60% of the world’s high-speed rail lines. The remaining 40% is shared between Asia (30%), America and Africa (10%). Here is an overview of some of the high-speed networks in Europe.
With 3,152 kilometers of track, Spain is the country with the largest high-speed network on the European continent. At the beginning of 2019, the Spanish rail network had 3,152 kilometers of high-speed lines, of which 2,514 km are standard gauge, 567 km correspond to the Iberian gauge and 71 km to the mixed network, a combination of standard and Iberian gauge. The AVE, Alvia and Avant trains of the Spanish operator Renfe run on these tracks.
The Spanish high-speed network carried 28.7 million passengers in 2017. It currently consists of five corridors along which Renfe’s fast trains run, mainly AVE, Alvia and Avant.
Renfe-Avlo is Renfe’s new High Speed-Long Distance offer which started operating in the summer of 2021 on the Madrid-Barcelona-Figueres line. Avlo trains can travel up to 300 km/h, all seats are economy class with assigned seats.
On board you will find free Wifi access through the PlayRenfe platform, sockets at each seat to charge phones and laptops and vending machines for hot and cold drinks and snacks. The only fare offered on Avlo services is called Basic, all tickets are nominative. Children under 14 can travel at a reduced fixed price, they must have a seat and a ticket.
AVE trains connect the main cities of Spain at over 300 km/h. With more than 20 daily services in each direction between Madrid and Barcelona, the AVE has become the best means of transport to travel between the two largest cities in Spain. In addition to the 12 routes operated by AVE throughout the country, Renfe connects Spain and France with high-speed trains.
Able to change gauge without stopping, Renfe’s Alvia trains run both on high-speed lines (maximum speed of 250 km/h) and on conventional gauge tracks (at a maximum speed of 200 km/h). h). All Alvia services depart from or arrive in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante.
Avant is Renfe’s high-speed intercity service. Designed for journeys of less than 200 kilometres, the Avant trains run at a maximum speed of 250 km/h.
Trains in Italy are chosen by tourists looking for speed and savings, because connections between major cities are generally faster and cheaper by train than by plane, and because driving and parking in Italy can be stressful.
For example, a train journey from Rome to Milan takes an average of 2 hours and 48 minutes, similar to the same journey by plane (including transfers to and from the airport) and much faster than by car (6 hours) . The schedule offers many daily departures, making it easy to plan your next adventure.
Italo high-speed train
The Italo high-speed train is a favorite mode of transport for travellers. This Italian express train offers 4 travel classes and can travel at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Another unique feature of this Italian train is its cinema car with high definition screens. Italo EVO high-speed trains are considered “green” because they have been built with recyclable materials and designed to guarantee a reduction in CO2 emissions.
Frecciarossa high-speed train
Operated by Trenitalia and called “Red Arrow” in English, the Frecciarossa train is an absolute legend of high-speed rail in Italy. The Frecciarossa’s top speed reaches 300 km/h (186 mph). There are two different classes on board, each equipped with power outlets, air conditioning, ample luggage space and free Wi-Fi.
According to Euronews, FrecciaRossa unveiled in July 2022 direct high-speed rail links from Rome Fiumicino airport to Naples and Florence.
Railjet High Speed Train
With a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph), Railjet is one of the fastest ways to travel by train in Italy. You can choose from 3 different class cars: Economy Second Class, First Class and Business Class. In addition, passengers are invited to enjoy the children’s cinema and the dining car.
EuroCity high-speed train
Operating on many rail lines across Europe, EuroCity trains offer two-class carriages, both equipped with everything needed for a comfortable journey, including air conditioning, good seats and spacious luggage storage areas . Plus, EuroCity city trains have an extended timetable so you can easily choose the time that best suits your travel schedule.
Nightjet night train
Instead of booking a hotel room, save time and board a modern Nightjet train. This night train offers quality on-board services as well as 3-class carriages: couchette, couchette and seated carriage. In addition, the Nightjet is perfect for traveling with family or friends since some compartments can accommodate 4 to 6 people.
EuroNight night train
Relax in one of the cozy and comfortable carriages as the EuroNight train takes you to your next stop. To provide a high level of comfort, all EuroNight sleeping cars are equipped with modern amenities including power outlets, luggage racks and air conditioning. Unfortunately, there is no Wi-Fi on board.
The abbreviation TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) defines a family of high-speed trains. Designed by the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français), in collaboration with the manufacturer Alstom, the TGV is one of the fastest conventional trains in the world; on some sections it operates at speeds of up to 320 km/h (200 mph).
The TGV network crosses France from north to south and from east to west to Marseille, Lille, Calais or Strasbourg. Paris is the most popular destination in France among the most popular TGV train routes.
Paris central stations (Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Gare de Lyon, Paris Montparnasse and Paris Gare de l’Est) are served by InOUI trains and peripheral stations (Massy, Marne-la-Vallée and Roissy) by OUIGO trains.
SNCF and Deutsche Bahn plan to launch a direct high-speed train between Paris and Berlin at the end of 2023. “We want to launch a Paris-Berlin TGV in December 2023,” SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou told AFP. “More and more people are willing to spend five hours, six hours, seven hours on a train.”
We want to launch a Paris-Berlin TGV in December 2023.
Jean-Pierre Farandou, CEO SNCF
The German railway network is one of the most comprehensive in Europe. The company that manages rail traffic in the country, Deutsche Bahn, manages more than 25,000 kilometers of tracks that connect most cities and regions of the country. According to Euronews, a new 25 km long Stuttgart-Wendlingen high-speed railway is currently underway and is expected to be completed by 2025.
Despite being one of the largest countries on the continent, high-speed trains connect major German cities to other foreign capitals in just a few hours. It is possible to travel from Frankfurt to Paris in 3h 40 min.
Among the most popular routes in Germany are those between the three cities mentioned above: Berlin, Cologne and Munich. The trip from Berlin to Cologne, is done daily with a multitude of schedules available. The direct journey can be made in 4 hours 20 minutes, from Berlin main station with Intercity Express (ICE), Germany’s high-speed trains. Wi-Fi service is free.
The route from Cologne to Munich is one of the busiest in Germany. The shortest direct route takes 4hrs 32mins and is also operated by ICE. Transfer routes usually take at least 1 hour longer.
The route from Munich to Berlin is also very common. ICE makes the trip daily with a multitude of schedules to choose from. The direct journey on this line generally takes 4 hours 2 minutes on average. There are other routes with transfers that only take half an hour longer. As in the previous cases, the seat reservation is made at a separate cost.