Europe's new 2010 train schedules take effect today, opening up lots of glorious new travel opportunities. Faster trains from the Kent coast to London are the highlight in England, while in Italy there is a veritable revolution as the 'missing link' in the country's main high speed axis is plugged. The opening of the new fast route from Florence to Bologna leads to substantial time savings on journeys between Milan and Rome.
In central Europe, there are a number of significant improvements. These include a new daily direct service from Bratislava to the Baltic port of Stralsund, and a new weekdays-only direct train from Leipzig to Stralsund.
Berlin secures an interesting new direct link with Carinthia, as the Vindabona Express, which has long provided a link between Berlin and Vienna, is extended south through Austria to Villach. There are many other significant changes in the Alps, which are summarised in an article we wrote last month for our friends at EuroCheapo. You can see that piece online here.
And, as we reported in yesterday's hidden europe e-brief, there will be a new direct train linking Belgrade with Sarajevo.
The opening of the long awaited HSL-Zuid fast line from Belgium to the Netherlands brings big improvements to travel times between Brussels and Amsterdam, which will also be a great asset to travellers from Britain using Eurostar to connect through Brussels en route to the Netherlands. The Thalys services between Brussels and Cologne will be faster, with those trains now using the new high speed route between Liège and Aachen - a stretch that has been used by German ICE trains for some months, but is now used by Thalys too.
The TGV services in France seem to get ever better every year. A new cross-country TGV will link Metz with Montpellier. Paris to Zürich services are upped from three to five per day.
The December issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable contains the revised 2010 schedules for every main line route in Europe (and many secondary ones too). It makes for marvellous bedtime reading. You will find more details here.