High Speed Trains in Europe – Cover large Distances in no-time!

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Train travel in Europe is more popular than ever and most of the train lines in Europe have been upgraded to transport passengers at high speed, especially in Western European countries.

But for the countries where high-speed train travel isn’t available just yet, it will probably be in the near future.

Obviously, this article will become abundant once all trains travel at high speed. For now, we made a small collection of the most interesting and popular high-speed trains in Europe, like we also made a list of all the night trains available in Europe.

High speed trains in Europe

As you can see on the map below, a lot of high-speed train connections are available in Europe, each of them operated by their respective local railway company or through a collaboration of different national railway companies.

Luckily, you can book tickets for these high speed trains or European bullet trains through online booking platforms platforms.

We listed the most important and most used high-speed trains in Europe to give you an idea of how the principle of high-speed trains in Europe works and which options you have when traveling in Europe by train.

King's Cross - London station - Photo by Michal Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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High-speed trains in Europe

Train à Grande Vitesse – TGV

The TGV is a French train operated by the French SNCF. It has been operational since 1981 and is equipped with one of the best security systems in the world.

TGV trains have never experienced fatal accidents and trains have automatic brakes when risks are found en route.

This high-speed train has been covering ground for a long time and it’s holding a worldwide speed record for conventional trains.

Eurostar, as well as Thalys, are sub companies belonging to TGV.

We listed them separately because they are very well known names in the high-speed train sector.
Book TGV tickets with Interrail or Eurail

  • Reserving tickets for TGV is compulsory
  • Speed: Up to 320 km per hour
  • WiFi (not on every train)
  • Charging sockets
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Bicycles allowed (when packaged right)
    First Class
  • Second Class
    The TGV stops in major cities in France and neighbouring countries.
  • The TGV crosses entire France within hours
  • Different trajectories within France and onto the neighboring countries
    Bar / Buffet Area where you can buy snacks and drinks
  • Mostly French
  • English

Thalys

The Thalys train is an international high-speed train that covers a lot of ground between France, Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands.

The train operates on a set trajectory between Amsterdam and Paris.

Parts of this international connection has been available, at a slightly slower speed, since 1924.

In the seventies, you could get from Paris to Brussels in 2 and a half hours. Today you can do the same trip in 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Thalys currently operates with electric train models.
You can book the Thalys with your Interrail or Eurail rail pass.

  • Reservations are mandatory for Thalys trips
  • Speed: Up to 300 km per hour
  • Air Conditioning for all travelers
  • On board Wi-Fi for all travelers
  • Charging sockets for all travelers
  • Train Managers can help you with every aspect of your trip and connections
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Bicycles allowed (when packaged right)
  • Comfort with more spacious seats
  • Premium with more luxury, access to lounge areas in the train stations and food delivery to your seat.
    The Thalys covers distance between different countries and crosses borders seamlessly.

The Thalys operates between major cities in:

France: Paris, Lille

Belgium: Bruxelles, Antwerp, Liège

Germany: Aachen, Köln, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Dortmund, Essen

The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Amsterdam

Seasonal stops in France:

  • Valence
  • Avignon
  • Aix-en-Provence
  • Marseille
  • Chambéry
  • Albertville
  • Moutiers
  • Aime-La-Plagne
  • Landry
  • Bourg Saint Maurice

The Thalys Welcome Bar offers a diversity of food and drinks. The Thalys Welcome Bar menu is available on the Thalys website. In the Welcome Bar, you can also buy tickets for public transportation once you arrive. Purchases made in the Welcome Bar can be paid with your credit card.

All staff on the Thalys is multilingual: French – English – Dutch

Berlin Hbf

Eurostar

The Eurostar shares a few railway tracks with the other high-speed trains in this list, but it is the only one so far that connects the European mainland with Great Britain, London to be more particular.

The Eurostar is, after all,  one of the only trains to pass through the tunnel under the sea between France and Great Britain and taking the Eurostar is an interesting experience.

Building the Eurotunnel to connect England to the mainland has faced a lot of ups and downs and for this reason, the projects had been aborted during early starts.

In 1988, the actual construction of the tunnel truly began and it was officially opened in 1994.

Another key point: the Channel Tunnel runs under water for almost 40 km. 
The Eurostar is included in both Interrail and Eurail rail passes

  • Booking your seat on the Eurostar is compulsory
  • Speed: Up to 300 km per hour on regular tracks
  • Speed: Up to 160 km per hour through the EuroTunnel
  • WiFi mostly available
  • Business Premier
  • Standard Premier
  • Standard

The Eurostar connects major cities in four countries, but from these cities, a lot of different connections are available.

United Kingdom: London, Ebbsfleet, Ashford

France: Calais, Paris, Disneyland Paris, Lille, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Aime La Plagne

Belgium: Brussels

The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Amsterdam
Dining area with reservation possibility

But there are no meals available between Brussels, Lille, and Calais

Spoken languages by staff: French, Dutch and English

Check out these amazing routes in Europe to do by train:

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Intercity Express – ICE and ICE Sprinter

Intercity Express trains are the flagship trains of the German rail system and it’s the high-speed international brother of the Intercity train network.

The Intercity Express first came into service in 1985 and these trains have the highest possible comfort level in the area they cover.

Prices are calculated station-to-station instead of at a per-kilometer fare.

The first generation of ICE trains was introduced to the world in 1991.

ICE Sprinter trains have fewer stops and travel at top speed to take you to your destination even faster.

You can book the Intercity Express with your Interrail and Eurail Rail pass.

  • Speed: Some Intercity Express trains have a maximum speed of 160 km per hour, while others have a maximum speed of up to 300 km per hour, depending on the trajectory and train type.
  • WiFi available
  • Charging sockets available
    First Class
  • Second Class
    Intercity Express trains connect major cities in Germany, but they can also take you to cities close to the German border in neighboring countries
  • Intercity Express trains stop at major stations
  • The Intercity Express Sprinter train only stops at a few train stations
    Restaurant car and a Bistro car for food and snacks is available for travelers
  • English and German spoken by staff

Alta Velocidad Española – AVE

The Spanish high-speed train network is called AVE and is currently still being expanded.

The Spanish AVE trains use the same technology used in the French TGV trains and the Spanish railway company RENFE collaborated with the French SNCF in order to create and expand their current high-speed train network.

AVE offers national high-speed trains, as well as international connections which take travelers into France.

Many of the AVE lines are already operational, but the Spanish RENFE is currently still expanding the high-speed rail network in Spain.

The first operational AVE line was opened for travelers in 1992 and it was the line between Madrid and Seville.

  • Speed: The AVE trains travel to up to 310 km per hour
  • Comfort levels and extra features depend on the type of train.
  • Medium distance train usually offer less comfort than long-distance trains
  • Most trains have air conditioning and charging sockets
  • Reservations are compulsory
  • You can book these train journeys with your Eurail pass or your Interrail Pass
  • Business Class
  • Economy Class
  • AVE operates on national trajectories as well as international journeys into France.
  • AVE operates on long distance trajectories and medium distance or regional trajectories.
  • Spain: Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Huesca, Malaga, Figueres, Allicante, Valencia, 
  • France: Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nimes, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Montpellier, Narbonne, Béziers, Agde, Sètes, Agde, Avignon, Valencia, Aix-en-Provence
  • Some of the AVE train types have a dining area or cafeteria, like the Renfe Talgo and the Renfe Trenhotel night trains.
  • Most medium distance and regional trains don’t offer this service.
  • Languages spoken by staff is mostly Spanish and on long distance trains also English

Other high-speed trains in Europe

A lot of European train travel is converting into high-speed train travel and most countries in Europe are working on the speed of their railway system.

So it’s very likely to encounter more and more high-speed trains in Europe. The ones we listed above are either very well known or covering a lot of ground.

Some of the trains mentioned above are international trains or have a night train version.

The trains we haven’t mentioned above are the Italian Frecce trains which also offer high-speed train connections in Italy and some of the smaller railway systems who only offer one or two lines to this date.

You can also check the Interrail website to see a full list of the current railway lines that already travel at high speed in Europe.

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