The Thalys high-speed train (parked here at the Cologne train
station in Germany) zips passengers between Brussels and Paris in an hour and
Photograph courtesy of the Rail Europe Group
| High-Speed Train Links |
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In the July/August issue we poll a panel of rail experts to bring you
ten of the very best rail trips. Online: how high-speed trains are
providing new, and sometimes faster, ways to travel.
Not all trains are leisurely paced and reminiscent of the past. Some
are fast and futuristic, streaking across the countryside at up to 187
miles (300 kilometers) an hour and giving some airplanes a run for
The sleek red Thalys, www.thalys.com, zooms between Brussels
and Paris in an hour and 25 minutes. The Eurostar,
www.eurostar.com, zips from downtown London to downtown
Paris in just three hours by way of the Channel Tunnelabout as
long as taking a plane and making ground connection, with less
fuss. Since Eurostars inauguration in 1994, overall traffic between
the two capitals has doubled, with 60 percent of travelers choosing
high-speed rail over flying.
You can have breakfast in your hotel in Paris and say, Oh, lets
go to London for the day, says Nanci Adler of Carlsbad,
California, who found the Eurostar a relaxing alternative to flying
while on vacation last November. You just sit there, drinking
wine, eating lunch, and seeing all the little villages go by.
High-speed rail networks that link major European cities and
airports may eventually relieve congested air routes and roadways.
Classic high-speed trains, such as Frances TGV,
www.sncf.com/indexe.htm, require special tracks and flat, straight
More nimbleand almost as fasttilting trains, such as
Italys Pendolino (little pendulum), www.fs-on-
line.com/eng/treninavi/treni.htm, can handle sinuous routes on
existing, but upgraded, tracks. Two new lines will link Madrid to
Barcelona and Paris to Frankfurt by 2005. Plans for
another route call for burrowing a tunnel through the Pyrenees to
connect Montpelier in the south of France to Barcelona by the end
Since fares are often competitive with air travel, high-speed trains
are catching on worldwide. Besides Japan, whose bullet train
started rolling 35 years ago, Australia, China, and Taiwan are
considering fast train routes, and South Korea is planning to launch
its first in 2001. In the United States, Amtrak hopes to launch its
150-mile-an-hour (241-kilometer-an-hour) Acela from Boston to
New York to Washington, D.C., this year.
Robin Terry is a researcher for a TRAVELER sister publication, WORLD.
Post your opinion: Should taxes be used to expand U.S. train service?
International Union of Railways
Includes sections on rail news and statistics, plus links to
high-speed rails and European timetables
An extensive site that includes rail-pass links, business travel
services, rail history, rail-related products, and vacation planners
The Information Train StationHigh Speed Trains and
Includes links to international and domestic rail companies and
associations, virtual tours, and travel guides
High Speed Trains by Chelsea House Publishing Staff (Chelsea
House Publishers, 1999, U.S. $21.95)
Ultimate Train by Peter Herring (DK Publishing, Inc., 2000, U.S.