While the United States quibbles about subsidies to keep Amtrak lumbering along as is, Europe is vastly expanding its network of high-speed trains. Four new high-speed routes will open this year: K France’s new TGV East line on June 10 will begin providing service between 20 French cities and 10 destinations in Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Trains on the new line will travel at 199 mph, cutting travel time by a third or more. For example, a trip from Paris to Reims now takes one hour and 35 minutes. As of June 10: 45 minutes. From Paris to Frankfurt: less than four hours, down from the current six. Costs range widely. For example, Paris-to-Reims costs between $25 and $75 each way. K New high-speed track as of Nov. 14 will speed Eurostar trains between London and Paris in two hours and 15 minutes, and between London and Brussels in less than two hours, shaving about 20 minutes off each trip. K Spain’s AVE train had already cut travel time between Madrid and Barcelona from almost seven hours to 41⁄ 2. Additional high-speed tracks set to open at the end of this year will cut the time to less than four hours. By the end of 2008, the trip is expected to take 21⁄ hours.
2 K The Netherlands will open service on its new Zuid (South) high-speed line by the end of this year, although the train won’t meet its final goal until next year: Brussels to Amsterdam in 11⁄ hours.
2 Currently, conventional trains take three hours.
High-speed trains now operate on 3,034 miles of track in 10 European countries. At least 1,711 miles of track will be added by 2010.
For more info, contact a travel agent or Rail Europe: 888-382-7245, www. raileurope.com.