Lonely Planet announces:
Two of Europe’s biggest rail operators are merging to create a combined high-speed network that serves the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Cross-Channel high-speed rail service, Eurostar, is joining forces with the French-Belgian rail operator Thalys to expand services across Europe. For travelers, this merger gives them a greater choice of simplified journeys on a single ticket.
Thalys already serves France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, but it doesn’t currently have operations in the UK.
Eurostar, meanwhile, has a pretty extensive network that operates out of St Pancras station in London; delivering passengers across the Channel Tunnel to French cities like Calais, Paris, Lille and Lyon and, in winter, to the Alps. It also offers a high-speed service to Brussels, Rotterdam and, most recently, Amsterdam. I took the “Chunnel” to Paris for a day trip while I was at Wimbledon for two weeks. I spent the day at the Louvre, and returned back to London that evening. It was an easy delightful day.
For the first time, UK passengers will be able to directly connect with Germany by high-speed rail, with trains potentially running from London to Cologne (a journey that would take five-and-a-half hours), Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund — destinations that are currently operated by Thalys.
I really enjoy rail travel in Europe. My first trip to Europe was a student Eurail pass, enabling me to start in Amsterdam, and end up in Rome. Along the way, I visited Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Italy. Just last week, I took the high-speed Deutsche Bahn Railway from Paris Gare d’lest to Frankfurt Main Haupt Bahnhof. I think my next trip to Europe will involve heavy use of a Eurail pass.
An added bonus is that trains are rarely canceled or late. The little city airline hoppers in Europe are always delayed or canceled.