High-Speed Rail Travel Trends in Europe for 2012

Rail Europe's President and CEO, Frederic LangloisOur President and CEO, Frédéric Langlois, contributes monthly to our High Speed Rail News blog series.  Sharing his passion for travel and high-speed rail of which he is considered an expert. With over 17 years in the industry, Langlois sits on the Advisory Boards of the German National Tourist Office, the French National Tourist Office and hotel giant Accor. In addition, he has appeared on cable news discussing the future of high-speed trains in the United States.

Italy and the United Kingdom are always ranked amongst the top 5 destinations for our travelers. I expect this trend to continue into 2012, due in part to the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee being celebrated in the UK and some exciting new rail developments in Italy!

With the Queen celebrating 60 years on the throne this year, travelers to the UK won’t be disappointed in 2012 with the choices of new royal themed events and exhibits centered around the Diamond Jubilee.  In fact, on my next trip, I plan to visit the David Hockney Exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Travelers to the UK can map out their trip in advance, decide what towns and cities they want to visit and purchase their rail in advance as e-tickets. Personally I prefer to book e-tickets as they allow me to plan well in advance but still make changes to my trip while I am on the go. With such a wide range of affordable fares it is a great way to travel and explore the best of British cities and also enjoy the English countryside.  In addition, in 2012, travelers will be able to book UK products including e-tickets on our mobile site and iPhone app.

This spring, travelers to Italy will have many more choices when it comes to choosing which high-speed train they will take. More choices on more trains can also mean a wider range of ticket prices, which is always good news! This is all is due to a new private railroad offering additional train services between the popular Italian cities of Milan, Turin, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome & Salerno.

Up until now, travelers in Italy could only use the high-speed rail services offered by Trenitalia – the government owned & operated railroad. But with the launch of a new train service from the privately owned Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV) – Italy’s first private railroad, things are about to change and choices for travelers are about to get wider!

The Trenitalia high-speed trains go by the names of Frecciarosa and Frecciargento. While the NTV trains are called Italo. All trains offer economy, business & first class service on their rail connections and business and first class travelers can avail of the creature comforts we have come to expect on board a train, such as spacious reclining seats, meals served at seats and wifi on board. The italo trains even have a cinema carriage!

If a trip to Europe is on your bucket list, I would encourage you to consider taking high-speed train journeys in Italy or board a train in the UK and travel between royal exhibits or sports events.

Additional Information

One of the  favorite ways to get around London is the pay-as-you-go Oyster card. Get one before you head over, as it offers a value for money way to travel, giving access to the tube or a bus to all the city zones.  Depending on when you travel, you can use your Oyster Card to visit the city’s new royal exhibits or catch some of the great sporting events scheduled for July.

  • Kathy Burt

    How would I get from Barcelona to Lourdes, France via rail system?

    • Phaedra

      Hi Kathy,

      From Barcelona to Lourdes, there would be at least 3 train changes along the way; once in Figueres, once in Narbonne and then once in Toulouse.

      To purchase tickets and view schedules, you would piece together the connection by doing separate searches for each segment of the trip.

      You would start out by doing one search for the portion of the connection from Barcelona to Figueres. Currently, our website requires that you enter the station name when you do searches for trains operated by the national rail network of Spain. For the portion of the requested connection from Barcelona to Figueres, you would type ‘Barcelona Sants’ and ‘Figueres Vilafant’ when you do your search.

      You would then search for connecting trains from Figueres to Narbonne. Please note that you would have to type Figueres differently here than when you do your search for trains from Barcelona to Figueres. When you do your search for trains from Figueres to Narbonne, you would have to type Figueres as ‘Figueras’ with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘e’, and you would not include the station name.

      You would then do another search for the portion of the connection from Narbonne to Lourdes (this would reflect the train change in Toulouse when you pull up the results of your search).

      The trains from Spain into France are only able to be booked within 60 days of an intended date of departure, while trains operating within France are able to be booked within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

      Happy Travels!

  • Barbara Bond

    how can i get from aix en provence to venice italy

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