By Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries—
The big rail news in Europe this past week has been the successful launch of a new direct train service from Moscow to Nice, restoring a link between the Russian capital and the French Riviera that has not operated since before the First World War. Routed via Minsk, Warsaw, Vienna, Innsbruck, Verona, Milan and Genoa, this new luxury train will surely appeal to Russian travellers who have latterly discovered the appeal of the Tyrol and Liguria. The French Riviera has of course long been a popular Russian haunt and the new train service recalls summer holiday journeys to Nice made by Russia’s aristocratic elite in the late 19th century.
TGV trains from France into Spain
The main annual change of schedules for most European rail operators will take place on Sunday December 12. Looking ahead to changes in the offing, the new timetable will see the launch of French TGV services over the Franco-Spanish border with twice daily trains from Paris to Figueras. Until now, TGV services from France have always terminated at the first station over the border in Spain.
Germany to Italy
We are expecting some big changes on the Brenner route, which carries trains from Munich in Germany via Innsbruck to northern Italy, with more trains and the extension of more services south beyond Verona to Bologna. These will speed up connections between Bavaria and Italian destinations south of Bologna (including Florence and Rome). And it looks likely that a new Munich to Venice daytime train will be introduced in December.
A new high-speed connection
The big news in northern Europe surrounding the new 2011 rail schedules will surely be the opening of the new high-speed route between Helsinki and St Petersburg. That journey presently takes over six hours, but with the introduction of the new Allegro train service, the travel time will be slashed to 3 hours 36 minutes. The new services debuts on 12 December.
Night train services
The overnight trains from Munich to both Copenhagen and Warsaw will be withdrawn in December, but Deutsche Bahn’s City Night Line subsidiary will launch a new overnight service from Hamburg to Paris. We shall give a further update on the new schedules nearer to their launch date. The December 2010 edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable will include the new timetables for all main European routes as well as for many lesser ones. Meanwhile, the October edition of this monthly treasure trove is due out this week and that already includes a 36 page preview of Europe’s 2011 rail schedules.