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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995




European rail companies, including France's SNCF and companies from Austria, Belgium, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have formed the Railteam group, that intends to imitate airline alliances by providing seamless international travel on one ticket.

Passengers taking high-speed train journeys between those countries will be able to switch railroad companies without changing tickets, benefit from lounges and other services offered at major hubs, and if a train is missed, take a later train with the same ticket.

By the end of 2008, a single website should allow travellers to view timetables and prices, and book tickets, for rail travel across Europe. The Railteam member companies will be competing on prices, and it's expected that there will be alliances between members to compete with the airlines. International passenger-rail services in Europe will be opened up to competition in January 2010. An article in The Economist (July 7th 2007) envisions low-cost rail companies such as an easyTrain or Ryanrail.

The newest link in the French-European network is the TGV-Est line. Travelling at 320 kph (200 mph) in smooth, quiet comfort, the Paris-Stuttgart trip takes 3 hours 40 minutes.

Both the cross-channel Eurostar (Paris-London) and the Paris-Brussels Thalys are part of the Railteam. In November 2007, the high-speed rail between London and the channel should be completed, so the Eurostar will be truly high-speed between Paris and the new hub at London's Saint Pancras station. Until then, Eurostar displays the problems of inter-nation rail travel: Eurostar trains have four different power systems for France, Belgium, the Channel Tunnel and the London commuter lines between London and the channel.

The Brussels-Amsterdam and Brussels-Cologne high-speed lines are scheduled to open in 2008.