European Rail News

Archive: 2012
published on 28 December 2012
Sattuma is a popular folk band from Petrozavodsk in Russian Karelia. The group includes, as a standard part of its repertoire, a song about the express train from Petrozavodsk to Joensuu in Finland. Great song, but no regular train plies the route described in the lyrics. Sattuma’s song about the train from Petrozavodsk to Joensuu has been wishful thinking - until this week.
published on 24 December 2012
Here is a thought to ponder as you make those final preparations for Christmas. In Berlin extra trains will run tonight on the city’s rail networks. Switch to London, and the rail network is today beginning to shut down. No trains will run anywhere in Britain on Christmas Day — and all but a handful of routes (in and around London and Glasgow) will be train-less on 26 December.
published on 11 December 2012
Last weekend, a raft of changes was introduced to train services from Moscow to France, the Netherlands and elsewhere in western Europe. The December 2012 issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable gives full details of all these changes. We here pick up some key changes to train 21JA from Moscow.
published on 11 December 2012
For many years, Venice enjoyed a direct Moscow train service, but it was unhappily axed last December — a victim of the demise of the nightly Budapest to Venice service which carried the through carriages from Moscow. But the Moscow to Venice itinerary could well return, a result of the re-routing of the existing Moscow to Nice train, which now follows a quite different route from Vienna to Verona.
published on 29 November 2012
The new rail timetables that start in Britain on 9 December 2012 bring much improved services on the East Suffolk Line from Lowestoft to Ipswich and a big expansion of the London Overground network. But we think the most significant innovation to long-distance services in Britain in the new schedules comes in the competitive London to West Midlands market — evidence, perhaps, that a little competition on the rails can be very good for the consumer. Not for the first time, it is Chiltern Railways who are making the running.
published on 29 November 2012
The 1519th issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable is published this week. Few titles run to so many editions, but few document something as fluid as rail and ferry schedules. Every month a new edition of the book plots the routes of new trains through Europe, revealing new departures and lost connections.
published on 23 November 2012
Croatia is a country with relatively low levels of car ownership (at least compared with many European countries), and a decent rail network. The country is gearing up to join the European Union (EU) next year, and the EU is pressing Croatia to implement structural reforms in inefficient state-owned industries. And running trains on that network might be deemed a worthwhile public service. But Croatia has deferred so totally to the economic pieties dictated by the IMF and the EU that it is now scrapping many train services.
published on 23 October 2012
There are major changes to report on night trains to and from Portugal. There have been rumours throughout this year about the poor loadings on the two international overnight trains to Lisbon. These trains are the Lusitania (Madrid to Lisbon) and the Sud Expresso or Surex (Irun to Lisbon). We had been fully expecting a new timetable from 9 December, when many European rail operators introduce new schedules, but now we see that a major recasting of these two services was introduced this month.
published on 26 September 2012
Across much of western and central Europe, new train timetables kick in on Sunday 9 December 2012. This is a once-a-year event when public transport schedules are revised. Coordinating international rail schedules is a tricky business and until such time as all the various operators have loaded the relevant schedules into their databases the trains cannot be booked. Read on to get an idea about when tickets might be bookable for the Christmas and New Year period - and beyond.
published on 19 September 2012
Recent reports by travellers following Route 40 in Europe by Rail highlight temporary changes to rail services on one of the principal routes linking Hungary with Romania. The upcoming October 2012 edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable highlights the full impact of these changes, which look set to continue until 18 October.
published on 12 September 2012
The direct rail service from Kyiv to Berlin is due to be axed at the end of this month. The final departure from Kyiv will be on Sunday 30 September, and the last return run from Berlin will leave Zoo station in the German capital at 21.35 the following evening. The Kashtan has been a staple of European schedules for many years and its withdrawal will sever the last remaining direct rail link between Ukraine and Germany.
published on 19 July 2012
Weaving words for European Rail News is an engaging sideline for us. We do much else besides, including looking after and publishing hidden europe magazine. A new issue of hidden europe appeared just this week. It is all about journeys and places, mainly offbeat ones.
published on 17 July 2012
In European Rail News yesterday, we highlighted something of the history of InterRail and it drew a number of comments from readers who e-mailed us. "Surely InterRail was so much better in the past, before the days when railway companies started levying supplements for pass holders," is a comment that captures the general tenor of the replies.
published on 16 July 2012
Anniversaries are worth celebrating. And this summer marks the fortieth birthday of InterRail. Yes, it was way back in 1972 that Europe's national rail operators launched a scheme to tempt young Europeans to explore their home continent.
published on 15 July 2012
Arenaways is a newish Italian rail operator. The company launched passenger services in autumn 2010, running from Milan to Turin in competition with Trenitalia. Last week Arenaways was due to start overnight services in Italy, running from Turin to both Apulia and Calabria (and vice versa).
published on 14 July 2012
Mid-morning today, a train arrived at Thessaloniki station from Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia. Nothing of great note, you might suggest. But actually this is the first scheduled international passenger train to arrive in Greece since early last year. In 2011, the Greek government — as part of its financial austerity programme — cut all train services across the country's international borders.
published on 27 June 2012
Damage to a bridge in Amsterdam is affecting many rail services to and from the Dutch city. The situation is fluid and travellers are advised to check the current situation before travelling. Night trains to and from Amsterdam are the most seriously affected.
published on 22 June 2012
A new rail link is launched today, connecting the Hungarian capital with the Croatian port of Pula. It is a twice-weekly summer season service, with departures from Budapest on Tuesday and Friday evenings and with trains from Pula running back to Budapest on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The service will run until late August.
published on 20 June 2012
Cast back half a century and there would have been nothing unusual about a direct train from Edinburgh to the port of Oban on Scotland's west coast. Indeed, our 1961 Bradshaw shows three direct trains each weekday from the Scottish capital to Oban — all running along the now sadly defunct Callander route, and serving along the way stations like Kingshouse Platform (on request), Killin Junction and Luib. All names that have long disappeared from the timetables.
published on 18 June 2012
Russian Railways (RZD) this week launches new direct seasonal through carriages from Moscow to Split on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. The inaugural run left Moscow's Kiyevskaya station just after 10 pm last evening. The entire journey to Split takes 62 hours, but with an interesting interlude in Budapest along the way.
published on 15 June 2012
Spain boasts Europe's most extensive network of dedicated high-speed passenger railways, and that network is further enhanced this weekend with the opening of a further short stretch of high-speed line south of Madrid. The new link will carry the first direct AVE trains from Spain's eastern Levante region to Andalucía, so removing the need to change trains in Madrid.
published on 14 June 2012
A new local rail service from Villach in Austria over the nearby border to Udine in Italy has just been launched. Good news for local travellers in this part of the eastern Alps. The new service runs twice daily in each direction.
published on 13 June 2012
Holders of InterRail and Eurail passes have often commented to us on the high supplements payable by pass holders for travel on the premium AVE services in Spain. There has long been a slow train option from Barcelona to Madrid, but it has until now involved a change of train in Zaragoza. That changes on Sunday when Spanish operator RENFE introduce a new direct Regional Express service between Spain's two largest cities.
published on 12 June 2012
A new train service starts today across the border between Serbia and Romania. For travellers following Route 50 in Europe by Rail, this new service provides a very useful cross-border link. Twice-daily local trains will link Vrsac in Serbia with Timisoara in neighbouring Romania.
published on 9 June 2012
Here's an interesting thought. Already this year we have had a number of readers of our Europe by Rail book comment on the hefty supplements that some railway operators charge to holders of Eurail and InterRail passes. But even on itineraries through countries where fast trains require advance seat reservations, it is often possible to devise a creative journey plan that sidesteps the trains on which you might have to pay a pass holder's supplement.
published on 6 June 2012
The new EuroCity train service from Berlin to Gdansk, previewed in European Rail News on 1 May 2012, started today. It is many years since the two cities have been linked by regular daytime trains. The reintroduction of the daytime link between two cities that have an intertwined history is very welcome, yet the one-way fare is ridiculously expensive.
published on 28 May 2012
We are sorry to note the demise of the rural Albanian rail route that until recently served the western shores of Lake Ohrid. This was truly one of Europe's great rural rides, a journey so peculiarly full of character that we had already been wondering about including a fuller mention of it in a future edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers.
published on 3 May 2012
The regular rail link between Tallinn and St Petersburg has been an on-off affair. Anything but regular in fact. While the overnight Tallinn to Moscow train has been a mainstay of the timetable for many years, the daytime link between the Estonian capital and St Petersburg has capricious appearances in the timetables, only then to disappear again. Too often, it has been a pawn in the less than easy relations between Russia and Estonia, with one or the other party axing the cross-border train as a reaction to some event on the other side of the border.
published on 1 May 2012
Europe's summer rail schedules kick in next month, though in truth the volume of changes that come with the June timetable change are very much fewer than what we expect with the main annual timetable change in December each year. One of the more interesting innovations with this year's new summer schedules is a direct train from Berlin to the Baltic port of Gdansk (still known to many German speakers as Danzig). The service continues beyond Gdansk to Gdynia, along the way serving the resort town of Sopot.
published on 20 April 2012
Okay, so we've been a little lax of late. We've taken quite a spell out to travel and now feel refreshed and renewed after some very memorable rail journeys around Europe. All in the interest of researching new routes for the 2013 edition of Europe by Rail. Among the memorable rail journeys that either or both of us made in March and April 2012 were trips on five named trains.
published on 14 February 2012
With the opening of Berlin's glitzy new airport on 3 June this year, look for some changes to rail services in the Berlin area. A brand new station opens to serve the new airport, with the focus on local and regional links serving the Berlin and Brandenburg region. But the new airport will also host a small number of long-distance services.
published on 10 February 2012
Keeping up to date with changes in European ferry services could be a full-time job these days. We used P&O Ferries for a crossing from Calais to Dover last week, and very fine it was too. A lovely crossing on a crisp, clear winter day as foot passengers on the Pride of Burgundy.
published on 9 February 2012
The Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable has always excelled in its coverage of France. England's nearest neighbour has long exerted a strong appeal for rail travellers (and not merely from England) and some of Thomas Cook's earliest tours were to France. Timetable editor Brendan Fox and his team have surely faced one of their biggest-ever challenges this winter as French rail operator SNCF introduced wholesale reform of their schedules.
published on 17 January 2012
2012 is shaping up to be as difficult as last year for rail travellers heading south through the Balkans to Greece. In 2011, Greece put a hold on all passenger trains crossing its land borders, thus severing the popular rail route from Bulgaria to Greece that crosses the border at Kulata, which is part of Route 41 in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers. It now looks at though this lack of trains across Greece's borders is going to continue for some months yet.
published on 16 January 2012
We have already commented on the difficult situation for rail travellers bound for Greece in an earlier post. The withdrawal of all international trains across Greece's borders affects travellers following Route 43 in Europe by Rail. A pity as this is a great route from Belgrade via Skopje to Thessaloniki. But worry not! You can still follow Route 43, pretty much as described in the book.
published on 13 January 2012
We ensure that each annual edition of Europe by Rail is bang up-to-date and correct at the moment it is sent off to the printers. But train schedules change and sometimes we are caught out. And that is what has just happened with Route 9 in the book. This route is a fabulous transect across the Iberian peninsula from Barcelona to Lisbon. At the border between Portugal and Spain you will now need to cross by bus.