European Rail News

Archive: 2020
Practical Info
published on 1 December 2020
We take a look at Mike Ball’s European Railway Atlas (ERA) series. The newly published Enthusiast Edition is perfect for planning rail journeys accross Europe.
Journeys
published on 15 November 2020
Paul Scraton reflects on the appeal of the urban tram as he explores tram routes in Berlin, Sarajevo, Prague and elsewhere. For visitors to a city, the tram is more than merely a way of getting around - it is an invitation to adventure.
News
published on 1 November 2020
As Europe's rail operators face reduced demand because of the pandemic, many services are being suspended from early November. We review developments in Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Russia and elsewhere.
Opinion
published on 30 October 2020
Would it not, in these difficult times, be so much better if operators initially open sales only for those trains which would run in the most skeleton timetable? If the pandemic abates, everyone will be delighted to then see operators responding quickly by adding in extra trains to meet renewed demand. We look at the offer of two operators: Eurostar and Thalys.
Journeys
published on 16 October 2020
Hop on a local suburban train in order to get a different view of a city. Whether it be your home town or an unfamiliar city, the view from the suburbs will be very different. Paul Scraton explores various expressions of Metroland across Europe.
Opinion
published on 11 October 2020
Across Europe, and more widely, there are huge variations in the extent to which national rail networks are electrified. With the need to decrease emissions, we look at the state of different countries, pondering both the future as well as taking a look into the past.
News
published on 25 September 2020
On 31 October Berlin's new airport - dubbed BER - will open to passengers. We take a look at train services to the new airport and changes that are afoot at the former Schönefeld Airport that will secure a new identity as BER Terminal 5.
News
published on 22 September 2020
The opening in 2016 of the Gotthard Base Tunnel led to big time savings on the Zürich to Milan route, and now there are further improvements in the offing. Earlier this month, the Ceneri Base Tunnel was officially opened. It is a new link offering much faster journeys through Switzerland’s southernmost canton of Ticino, used by all fast trains that follow the Gotthard route south into Italy.
Journeys
published on 15 September 2020
Imagine you have an unexpected hour or two at a railway station far from home. What are the ingredients of a pleasing station? Perhaps uplifting architecture, a relaxed café, a decent bookshop and an engaging range of trains to watch. Paul Scraton reflects on the ideal railway station.
News
published on 29 August 2020
The direct Eurocity link from Zürich to Bavaria has long been the poor relation in Switzerland’s generally excellent range of direct rail services to Germany. But that is set to change with the new timetables that will come into effect in mid-December 2020.
History
published on 12 August 2020
Can you hazard a guess as to how many night trains to Scotland might have left London every evening sixty years ago? Four or five? A dozen perhaps? Enjoy our detailed review of Scotland-bound night trains in 1960/61.
Notes
published on 4 August 2020
Tony Judt, who died ten years ago in August 2010, is remembered as a first-class historian. But he was also a great advocate for rail travel. Berlin-based writer Paul Scraton shares thoughts on Tony Judt's enthusiasm for the train.
News
published on 30 July 2020
Here is an update on European night train services as of July 2020. In this post we particularly take a look at night sleepers which, for one reason or another, have not yet been reinstated. But there are also some entirely new routes.
Journeys
published on 16 July 2020
There are proper night trains, the ones with couchettes and sleeping berths. And then there's the more spartan variant of the night train. merely offering passengers a seat for an overnight journey. Paul Scraton joins the 21.48 from Aachen to Berlin and discovers a certain ascetic pleasure as the ICE train rumbles eastward through the night.
Practical Info
published on 29 June 2020
Although some summer-season trains will not be running this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still plenty of services which will operate. Here we give an overniew of some of the summer specials which this year are running to Catalonia, the Alps, the North Sea and Baltic coasts and to Italian resorts.
Journeys
published on 15 June 2020
We were travelling to Świnoujście for no other reason than curiosity. Perhaps because of growing up on an island myself, land borders have always fascinated me. The excitement of early Interrail trips was as much the novelty of being able to take the train to another country as it was what I found when I got there.
News
published on 13 June 2020
Railjets bring Europe together. Every day, they set off from Zürich for distant Bratislava and Budapest, the latter a journey of over a thousand kilometres. Each route takes in four countries (including tiny Liechtenstein). And now there is a new service linking Graz and Berlin.
News
published on 22 May 2020
Reggio di Calabria has already had its taste of Frecce trains, but only the lesser grades – Frecciargento (FA) and Frecciabianca (FB) rather than the posh Frecciarossa. But that's about to change in June 2020 when the first Frecciarossa will make its way from Turin to Italy's far south.
Notes
published on 15 May 2020
As a response to the pogrom against the Jews in Nazi Germany, the British Jewish community organized the Kindertransport which brought nearly 10,000 mostly Jewish children to Britain in 1938 and 1939. One of the children who came to Britain was Frank Meisler, then a boy of thirteen. He would grow up to become a sculptor.
News
published on 8 May 2020
As France tentatively relaxes its Coronavirus restrictions, a process known as déconfinement, more train services are being introduced from Monday 11 May 2020. On some regional rail routes, intending passengers will need to secure a boarding card (coupon d'accès) prior to travel.
History
published on 6 May 2020
Macron's demand that Air France trim French domestic air services ups the game for rail operator SNCF. The move set us thinking about which French president of the last 100 years has been the most ardent supporter of rail travel.
News
published on 20 April 2020
It's going to take a long time for Europe's long-distance international train services to get back to normal, but many local trains across frontiers are already running again.
News
published on 16 April 2020
There are plans that a new company station will open close to Berlin called Dahlewitz Rolls-Royce granting access to the Rolls-Royce Aerospace plant for the company's employees. That good news prompts us to look at the fate of earlier company railway stations in France and Britain.
Journeys
published on 15 April 2020
Paul Scraton recalls his first European rail adventure back in 1999. Armed with an Interrail pass and the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable and accompanied by two friends, Paul travelled from Zürich to Prague by train. It was the first long rail leg in a European tour.
Opinion
published on 29 March 2020
Perhaps a future generation of travellers will look back at the international rail timetables for early April 2020, barely able to believe that Europe could have become so fragmented. But will they even be able to find out what the timetables were? In this digital age, we do just wonder whether scholars a century hence will be able to find copies of the railway timetables which were applicable in this difficult period.
History
published on 23 March 2020
Looking through our bookshelves recently, we stumbled upon our copy of the Great Western Railway (GWR) timetable for the early months of 1902. Being largely confined to indoor activities these days, we took the opportunity to touch base with railway services of yesteryear.
Practical Info
published on 20 March 2020
We take a look at Europe's fragmenting network of international rail links as passengers stay at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Rail operators in western Europe have responded a little more slowly to the growing threat than those further east.
Practical Info
published on 19 March 2020
In recent months, we have twice travelled from St Gallen to Lucerne on a Swiss PE train. The latter is the abbreviation for ‘Panorama Express’. It is only since December last year that this route gained PE status. But what’s behind that designation?
Journeys
published on 17 March 2020
What’s the best way to approach your destination? Is it by air? Or on foot? For Paul Scraton only the train can combine both the sweep of a skyline and the thrill of spotting the landmarks that give a place its visual character. Enjoy Paul's reflections on his train journey from Dresden to Prague.
News
published on 9 February 2020
There’s much ado with cross-border train services in Europe these days. Apart from the well-documented revival of interest in night trains, there are also developments with daytime trains. We look at some of the latter in this post.
Notes
published on 17 January 2020
Brendan Fox’s contribution to the European Rail Timetable extends over four decades. He was appointed Assistant Editor in 1982, moving up to Editor in 1985. He has now retired - for the second time in fact. Here's our tribute to Brendan.