High-speed rail in Europe

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Operational high-speed lines in Europe High Speed Railroad Map of Europe.svg
Operational high-speed lines in Europe
Networks of major high-speed rail operators in Europe, 2019 Networks of Major High Speed Rail Operators in Europe.gif
Networks of major high-speed rail operators in Europe, 2019

High-speed rail (HSR) has developed in Europe as an increasingly popular and efficient means of transport. The first high-speed rail lines on the continent, built in the 1980s and 1990s, improved travel times on intra-national corridors. Since then, several countries have built extensive high-speed networks, and there are now several cross-border high-speed rail links. Railway operators frequently run international services, and tracks are continuously being built and upgraded to international standards on the emerging European high-speed rail network.


In 2007, a consortium of European Railway operators, Railteam, emerged to co-ordinate and boost cross-border high-speed rail travel. Developing a Trans-European high-speed rail network is a stated goal of the European Union, and most cross-border railway lines receive EU funding. Several countries — France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom — are connected to a cross-border high-speed railway network.

More are expected to be connected in the coming years as Europe invests heavily in tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure and development projects across the continent, many of which are under construction now. Alstom was the first manufacturer to design and deliver a high speed train or HS-Train, which ended up in service with TGV in France.

Currently, there are a number of high-level manufacturers designing and building HSR in Europe, with criss-crossed alliances and partnerships, including the companies Bombardier Transportation (since 2021 owned by Alstom), Alstom itself, the Spanish Talgo and the German Siemens. [1]

Early national high-speed rail networks

The first high-speed rail lines and services were built in the 1980s and 1990s as national projects. Countries sought to increase passenger capacity and decrease journey times on inter-city routes within their borders. In the beginning, lines were built through national funding programmes and services were operated by national operators.


High-speed rail in France and bordering countries Carte TGV.svg
High-speed rail in France and bordering countries
Video footage of TGV, Thalys and Eurostar rushing past in France (2018)

France was introduced to high-speed rail when the LGV Sud-Est from Paris to Lyon opened in 1981 and TGV started passenger service. Since then, France has continued to build an extensive network, with lines extending in every direction from Paris. France has the second largest high-speed network in Europe, with 2,800 km of operative HSR lines in June 2021, [2] only behind Spain's 3,402 km. [3]

The TGV network gradually spread out to other cities, and into other countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK. Due to the early adoption of high-speed rail and the important location of France (between the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles and Central Europe), most other dedicated high-speed rail lines in Europe have been built to the same speed, voltage and signalling standards. The most obvious exception is the high-speed lines in Germany, which are built to existing German railway standards. Also, many high-speed services, including TGV and ICE utilize existing rail lines in addition to those designed for high-speed rail. For that reason, and due to differing national standards, trains that cross national boundaries need to have special characteristics, such as the ability to handle different power supplies and signalling systems. This means that not all TGVs are the same, and there are loading gauge and signalling considerations.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or
expected start of revenue services
LGV Sud-Est 270 km/h, then 300 km/h409 km19761983
LGV Atlantique 300 km/h279 km19851990
LGV Rhone-Alpes 300 km/h115 km19891994
LGV Nord 300 km/h333 km19891996
LGV Interconnexion Est 270 km/h57 km19901996
LGV Méditerrannée 320 km/h250 km19962001
LGV Est Européen 320 km/h406 km20022016
LGV Perpignan-Barcelona 300 km/h45 km20042012
LGV Rhin-Rhone 320 km/h138 km20062011
LGV Sud Europe Atlantique 320 km/h302 km20122017
LGV Bretagne-Pays de la Loire 320 km/h182 km20122017
LGV Nîmes-Montpellier 220 km/h80 km20132018
LGV Bordeaux-Toulouse 320 km/h222 kmUnknown~ 2025
LGV Bordeaux-Espagne320 km/h251 kmUnknown~ 2032
LGV Montpellier-Perpignan Unknown150 kmUnknownUnknown
Lyon-Turin 300 km/h272 km20072030


An InterCity 125 train at Hull Paragon in 1982. The InterCity 125 is the world's fastest diesel train. 43104 in Hull station.jpg
An InterCity 125 train at Hull Paragon in 1982. The InterCity 125 is the world's fastest diesel train.

Britain has a history of high-speed rail, starting with early high-speed steam systems: examples of engines are GWR 3700 Class 3440 City of Truro and the steam-record holder LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard. Later, high-speed diesel and electric services were introduced, using upgraded main lines, mainly the Great Western Main Line (GWML) and East Coast Main Line. The InterCity 125, otherwise known as the High-Speed Train (HST), was launched in 1976 with a service speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) and provided the first high-speed rail services in Britain. [4] The HST was diesel-powered, and the GWML was the first to be modified for the new service. [5] Because the GWML had been built mostly straight, often with four tracks and with a distance of 1 mile (about 1.6 km) between distant signal and main signal, it allowed trains to run at 125 mph (201 km/h) with relatively moderate infrastructure investments, compared to other countries in Europe. The Intercity 125 had proven the economic case for high-speed rail, [6] and British Rail was keen to explore further advances.

British Rail Class 395 high-speed train in Kent. 395 St Pancras International to St Pancras International 1L36 at Hothfield.jpg
British Rail Class 395 high-speed train in Kent.

In the 1970s, British Rail began to explore new technologies for high-speed passenger rail services in the UK. While the Japanese and French railway authorities had decided to build completely new tracks for their respective Shinkansen and TGV high-speed rail systems, British Rail opted instead to develop a train capable of running on existing rail infrastructure: the Advanced Passenger Train (APT), with a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h). An experimental version, the APT-E, was tested between 1972 and 1976. It was equipped with a tilting mechanism which allowed the train to tilt into bends to reduce cornering forces on passengers, and was powered by gas turbines (the first to be used on British Rail since the Great Western Railway). The line had used Swiss-built Brown-Boveri and British-built Metropolitan-Vickers locomotives (18000 and 18100) in the early 1950s. The 1970s oil crisis prompted a rethink in the choice of motive power (as with the prototype TGV in France), and British Rail later opted for traditional electric overhead lines when the pre-production and production APTs were brought into service in 1980–86. [7]

Initial experience with the Advanced Passenger Trains was pretty good. They had a high power-to-weight ratio to enable rapid acceleration; the prototype set record speeds on the Great Western Main Line and the Midland Main Line, and the production versions vastly reduced journey times on the WCML. The APT was, however, beset with technical problems; financial constraints and negative media coverage eventually caused the project to be cancelled. [8]

Trains currently travel at 125 mph (200 km/h) on the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line, parts of the Cross Country Route, and the West Coast Main Line. High Speed 1 (HS1) connects London to the Channel Tunnel, with international Eurostar services running from London St Pancras International to cities in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands at 186 mph (300 km/h). [9] That line is also used by high-speed commuter services from Kent to the capital, operating at top speeds of 140 mph (225 km/h). Since 2019 [10] construction has been ongoing on a major new purpose-built high-speed rail line, High Speed 2 (HS2) which will link London with major cities in the North and the Midlands at 224 mph (360 km/h) and reduce journey times to Scotland. HS2 is a more sustainable high-speed line critical for the UK's low carbon transport future, building several new railway stations and bridges. [11] Government-backed plans to provide east-west high-speed services between cities in the North of England are also in stages of development, as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project. [12]

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or
expected start of revenue services
High Speed 1 300 km/h108 km19982007
High Speed 2 400 km/h530 km20192028–2033


ICE network ICE Network.png
ICE network

Construction on first German high-speed lines began shortly after that of the French LGVs. Legal battles caused significant delays, so that the InterCityExpress (ICE) trains were deployed ten years after the TGV network was established. The ICE network is more tightly integrated with pre-existing lines and trains as a result of the different settlement structure in Germany, with a population more numerous by a third than that of France, on a territory smaller by a third, resulting in more than twice the population density of France. ICE trains reached destinations in Austria and Switzerland soon after they entered service, taking advantage of the same voltage used in these countries. Starting in 2000, multisystem third-generation ICE trains entered the Netherlands and Belgium. The third generation of the ICE reached a speed of 363 km/h (226 mph) during trial runs in accordance with European rules requiring maximum speed +10% in trial runs, and is certified for 330 km/h (210 mph) in regular service.

In the south-west, a new line between Offenburg and Basel is planned to allow speeds of 250 km/h (160 mph), and a new line between Frankfurt and Mannheim for speeds of 300 km/h (190 mph) is in advanced planning stages. In the east, a 230 km (140 mi) long line between Nuremberg and Leipzig opened in December 2017 for speeds of up to 300 km/h (190 mph). Together with the fast lines from Berlin to Leipzig and from Nuremberg to Munich, which were completed in 2006, it allows journey times of about four hours from Berlin in the north to Munich in the south, compared to nearly eight hours for the same distance a few years ago.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or

expected start of revenue services

Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway 280 km/h327 km19731991
Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway 280 km/h99 km19761991
Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway 250 km/h258 km19921998
Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line 300 km/h180 km19952002
Cologne–Aachen high-speed railway 250 km/h70 km19972002
Nuremberg–Munich high-speed railway 300 km/h171 km19982006–2013
Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway 300 km/h121 km19872015
Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway 300 km/h191 km19962017
Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed railway 200–250 km/h182 km19871993–2030
Stuttgart–Wendlingen high-speed railway 250 km/h25 km20122025
Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway 250 km/h60 km20122025


Italy's high-speed rail network Italy TAV.png
Italy's high-speed rail network

The earliest high-speed rail line built in Europe was the Italian "Direttissima", the Florence–Rome high-speed railway (254 km/158 mi) in 1978, which used FS Class E444 3 kV DC locomotives. Italy pioneered the use of the Pendolino tilting train technology. The Italian government constructor Treno Alta Velocità has been adding to the high-speed network in Italy, with some lines already opened. The Italian operator NTV is the first open access high-speed rail operator in Europe, since 2011, using AGV ETR 575 multiple units.

In March 2011, a contract for the second phase of construction on the Milan–Verona high-speed line was signed. This section will be 39 km long. Construction originally to be completed by 2015, it is open to Brescia since late 2016. [13]

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or

expected start of revenue services

Florence–Rome 250 km/h254 km19701992
Rome–Naples 300 km/h205 km19952005
PaduaVenice (Mestre) 220 km/h25 km2007
Naples-Salerno 250 km/h29 km2008
Milan–Bologna 300 km/h215 km20022008
Bologna–Florence 300 km/h79 km19922009
Turin–Milan 300 km/h125 km2009
Milan–Brescia 300 km/h67 km20122016
Brescia-East-Verona 300 km/h48 km20162023 [14]
East-Verona-Vicenza 300 km/h44 km20212027 [15]
Brenner Base Tunnel 250 km/h56 km20062032 [16]
Turin-Lyon 250 km/h72 km20112030 [17]
Verona-Brenner [18] 250 km/h180 km20212032
Milano-Genoa [19] 250 km/h53 km20112023 [20]
Naples-Bari 200 km/h147 km20162027 [21]

The Italian high-speed railway network consists of 1342 km of lines, which allow speeds of up to 300 km/h. The safety system adopted for the network is the ERMTS/ETCS II, the state-of-the-art in railway signalling and safety. [22] The power supply follows the European standard of 25 kV AC 50 Hz mono-phase current. The Direttissima segment is still supplied with 3 kV DC current, but it is planned that this will be conformed to the rest of the network. [23]

Frecciarossa 1000 is one of the fastest trains in the EU. Etr1000pistoialaunch.jpg
Frecciarossa 1000 is one of the fastest trains in the EU.

With the imminent entering into service of the ETR1000 trainsets, which have a top speed of more than 400 km/h and a commercial speed of 360 km/h, the rail network will be upgraded [26] to safely allow trains to run at such speeds. The commercial run of the first ETR1000 is planned for 2014. [27] On 28 May 2018, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the ANSF announced that no further tests will be carried out and the ETR1000 will not run over 300 km/h. [28] [29]


AVE network, the longest in Europe. HighSpeedSpain.svg
AVE network, the longest in Europe.

The Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) high-speed rail system in Spain has been in service since 1992, when the MadridSevilla (Seville) route started running. Ten other lines have been opened since, including the 621-kilometre long MadridBarcelona line. As of June 2021 the total length of the network to 3,402 kilometres, [3] [30] making it the longest in Europe, and the second longest in the world after mainland China. [31]

The ambitious AVE construction programme aims at connecting with high-speed trains almost all provincial capitals to Madrid in less than 3 hours and to Barcelona within 6 hours. With an initial deadline set for 2020, the program was slowed down by the financial crisis: the two main lines still under construction, the Mediterranean Corridor and the Lisbon Line, are currently expected to be completed by 2022. [32]

The Spanish and Portuguese high-speed lines are being built to European standard or UIC track gauge of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) and electrified with 25 kV at 50 Hz from overhead wire. The first HSL from Madrid to Seville is equipped with LZB train control system, later lines with ETCS.

Elsewhere in Europe, the success of high-speed services has been due in part to interoperability with existing normal rail lines. Interoperability between the new AVE lines and the older Iberian gauge network presents additional challenges. Both Talgo and CAF supply trains with variable gauge wheels operated by automatic gauge-changer equipment which the trains pass through without stopping (Alvias). Some lines are being constructed as dual gauge to allow trains with Iberian and UIC gauge to run on the same tracks. Other lines have been re-equipped with sleepers for both Iberian and UIC gauge, such that the track can be converted from Iberian to UIC gauge at a later time without changing the sleepers.

The first AVE trains to link up with the French standard gauge network began running in December 2013, when direct high-speed rail services between Spain and France were launched for the first time. [33] This connection between the two countries was made possible by the construction of the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line (a follow-up of the Madrid-Barcelona line), completed in January 2013, [34] [35] and its international section Perpignan-Figueres, which opened in December 2010 and includes a new 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) tunnel under the Pyrenees. Another high-speed rail link connecting the two countries at Irun/Hendaye is also planned.

Several new high-speed lines are under construction with a design speed of 300–350 km/h, and several old lines are being upgraded to allow passenger trains to operate at 250 km/h. [36] [37] The total length of lines is higher than 3000 km with long-term plans to expand it up to 7000 km.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or
expected start of revenue services
Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line 300 km/h472 km19891992
L.A.V. Madrid-Toledo 270 km/h74 km20032005
L.A.V. CórdobaMálaga 300 km/h155 km20012007
L.A.V. Madrid–Valladolid 350 km/h179.6 km20012007
Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line 350 km/h621 km19952008
L.A.V. Madrid–Valencia 350 km/h391 km20042010 [38]
L.A.V. Albacete–Alicante 350 km/h171.5 kmUnknown2013 [38]
L.A.V. Barcelona–French border350 km/h150.8 km20042013
Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line (Eixo Atlántico de Alta Velocidade)250 km/h155.6 km [39] 20012015
L.A.V. Valladolid–León 350 km/h162.7 km20092015
L.A.V. Valencia–Castellón 350 km/h74 kmUnknown2018 [38]
L.A.V. PalenciaBurgos 350 km/h134.8 km20092020
L.A.V. SevilleCádiz 250 km/h157 km20012015 [40]
L.A.V. AntequeraGranada 300 km/h125.7 km20062019
L.A.V. LeónGijón 350 km/hUnknown km2009after 2020
L.A.V. Olmedo–Zamora-Galicia 350 km/h435 km20042011–2021 [41] [42]
L.A.V. MurciaAlmería 300 km/h184.3 kmUnknown2025
L.A.V. BurgosVitoria-Gasteiz 350 km/h98.8 km20092025
Basque Y 250 km/h175 km20062025
Mediterranean High Speed Corridor:
AndalusiaMurciaValenciaCatalonia–French border [43]
250–350 km/h+1300 km20042013–2025
Madrid–(CáceresMéridaBadajoz)–Lisbon [44] 350 km/h640 km2008after 2020
L.A.V. MadridJaén 250–350 km/hUnknown km2015Unknown
L.A.V. MadridSantander [45] Unknown km/hUnknown kmUnknown2025
Madrid AtochaMadrid Chamartín 160 km/h7 kmUnknown2021 [46]

Three companies have built or will build trains for the Spanish high-speed railway network: Spanish Talgo, French Alstom and German Siemens AG. Bombardier Transportation is a partner in both the Talgo-led and the Siemens-led consortium. France will eventually build 25 kV TGV lines all the way to the Spanish border (there is now a gap between Nîmes and Perpignan), but multi-voltage trains will still be needed, as trains travelling to Paris need to travel the last few kilometres on 1.5 kV lines. To this end, RENFE decided to convert 10 existing AVE S100 trains to operate at this voltage (as well as the French signalling systems), which will cost €30,000,000 instead of the previously expected €270,000,000 for new trains. [47]

Integration of European High-speed rail network

The Trans-European high-speed rail network is one of a number of the European Union's Trans-European transport networks. It was defined by the Council Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July 1996.

The aim of this EU Directive is to achieve the interoperability of the European high-speed train network at the various stages of its design, construction and operation.

The network is defined as a system consisting of a set of infrastructures, fixed installations, logistic equipment and rolling stock.

On 5 June 2010, the European Commissioner for Transport signed a Memorandum of Understanding with France and Spain concerning a new high-speed rail line across the Pyrenees to become the first link between the high-speed lines of the two countries. Furthermore, high-speed lines between Helsinki and Berlin (Rail Baltica), and between Lyon and Budapest, were promoted. [48]

Cross-border infrastructure and passenger services


High-speed rail network in Belgium Reseau grande vitesse Belgique.svg
High-speed rail network in Belgium

Belgium's rail network is served by four high-speed train operators: Thalys, Eurostar, ICE and TGV trains. All of them serve Brussels South (Midi) station, Belgium's largest railway station. Thalys trains, which are a variant of the French TGV, operate between Belgium, Germany (Dortmund), the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and France (Paris). Since 2007, Eurostar has connected Brussels to London St Pancras, before which, trains connected to London Waterloo. The German ICE operates between Brussels, Liège and Frankfurt.

The HSL 1 is a Belgian high-speed railway line which connects Brussels with the French border. 88 km long (71 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 17 km modernised lines), it began service on 14 December 1997. The line has appreciably shortened rail journeys, the journey from Paris to Brussels now taking 1:22. In combination with the LGV Nord, it has also affected international journeys to France and London, ensuring high-speed through-running by Eurostar, TGV, Thalys PBA and Thalys PBKA trainsets. The total construction cost was €1.42 billion.

The HSL 2 is a Belgian high-speed rail line between Brussels and Liège, 95 km long (61 km dedicated high-speed tracks between Leuven and Ans, 34 km modernised lines between Brussels and Leuven and between Ans and Liège) it began service on 15 December 2002. Its extension to the German border (the HSL 3) is now in use, the combined high-speed line greatly accelerates journeys between Brussels, Paris and Germany. HSL 2 is used by Thalys and ICE trains as well as fast internal InterCity services.

The HSL 3 is a Belgian high-speed railway line which connects Liège to the German border. 56 km long (42 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 14 km modernised lines), it began service on 13 December 2009. HSL 3 is used by international Thalys and ICE trains only, as opposed to HSL 2 which is also used for fast internal InterCity services.

The HSL 4 is a Belgian high-speed railway line which connects Brussels to the Dutch border. 87 km long (40 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 57 km modernised lines). HSL 4 is used by Thalys trains since 13 December 2009 and it will be used starting 2010 by fast internal InterCity trains. Between Brussels and Antwerp (47 km), trains travel at 160 km/h on the upgraded existing line (with the exception of a few segments where a speed limit of 120 km/h is imposed). At the E19/A12 motorway junction, trains leave the regular line to run on new dedicated high-speed tracks to the Dutch border (40 km) at 300 km/h.

The completion of the Channel Tunnel rail link (High Speed 1) and the completion of the lines from Brussels to Amsterdam and Cologne led to news reports in November 2007 that both Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn were pursuing direct services from London to Amsterdam and Cologne. Both journeys would be under 4 hours, the length generally considered competitive with air travel.

The 25N line opened in 2012–2018 is designed for speeds up to 220 km/h, but is limited to 160 km/h until another existing line Mechelen-Antwerp will be upgraded. It's unknown when it will happen.


HSL-Zuid, connected to Antwerp with the HSL 4 Hslbenelux.png
HSL-Zuid, connected to Antwerp with the HSL 4

HSL-Zuid (Dutch : Hogesnelheidslijn Zuid, English: High-Speed Line South) is a 125 km high-speed line in the Netherlands. Using existing tracks from Amsterdam Centraal to Schiphol Airport, the dedicated high-speed line begins here and continues to Rotterdam Centraal and to the Belgian border. Here, it connects to the HSL 4, terminating at Antwerpen-Centraal. [49] Den Haag Centraal (The Hague) and Breda are connected to the high-speed line by conventional railway lines. [50] Services on the HSL-Zuid began on 7 September 2009. [51] It will be served by Thalys trains from Amsterdam to Brussels and Paris. [52]

HSL-Oost was planned, but was put on hiatus. It would connect Amsterdam Centraal via Utrecht Centraal and Arnhem to Germany. [53] The existing line from Amsterdam to Utrecht is four-tracked. Two tracks out of four are capable of 200 km/h, but the available voltage is not high enough. The line is planned to be re-electrified to 25 000 V AC.

Paris to Frankfurt

Admission of ICE trains onto French LGVs was applied for in 2001, and trial runs were completed in 2005. In June 2007, the LGV Est from Paris to the middle of the Lorraine region of France was opened. For the first time, high-speed services over the Franco-German border were offered. SNCF operates the TGV service between Paris and Stuttgart via Strasbourg and a daily return journey from Paris to Frankfurt via Saarbrücken, while ICE trains operate the remaining Paris to Frankfurt.

Channel Tunnel

The construction of the Channel Tunnel, completed in 1994, provided the impetus for the first cross-border high-speed rail line. In 1993, the LGV Nord, which connects Paris to the Belgian border and the Channel Tunnel via Lille, was opened. Initial travel times through the tunnel from London to Paris and Brussels were about 3 hours. In 1997, a dedicated high-speed line to Brussels, HSL 1, was opened. In 2007, High Speed 1, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London, was completed after a partial opening in 2003. All three lines were built to the French LGV standards, including electrification at 25 kV. The Channel tunnel itself is geometrically achievable to provide 200 km/h speed, but it is limited to 160 km/h. In 1990s it was claimed that such speed restriction is temporary. [54]

London to Paris and Brussels

Passenger trains built to specific safety standards are operated by Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel. Direct trains now travel from London St Pancras to Paris in 2h15, and to Brussels in 1h51. On 1 May 2015 Eurostar introduced a weekly service from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille. Thalys high-speed international trains serve the Paris to Brussels corridor, which is now covered in 1h20. Additional Thalys services extend to Amsterdam and Cologne in addition to Belgian cities.

London to Amsterdam and Germany

Both Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Eurostar have announced plans for direct services from London to new continental destinations in the Netherlands and Germany. DB have not set a date for any new service to begin, although the company did at one point hope to introduce a five-hour service to Frankfurt by 2017. A twice daily direct Eurostar service between London St Pancras and Amsterdam started running on 4 April 2018. The German manufacturer Siemens has designed trainsets to meet the strict safety standards of Channel Tunnel operation.

Spanish-French Border

A 131-kilometre (81.4 mi) section of the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line across the Spanish-French border opened in January 2013. [55] The line includes the new 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) Perthus Tunnel under the Pyrenees and permits high-speed rail services between Spain and France. [56] Since 15 December 2013 the French SNCF operates a TGV service between Paris and Barcelona and the Spanish AVE offers direct MadridMarseille, Barcelona–Lyon and Barcelona–Toulouse high-speed services. [57] [58] The journey time for the TGV Paris–Barcelona service is now 6h 25min. [59] A 60 kilometer Nîmes–Montpellier bypass is under construction and will chop 20 minutes off travel times from Barcelona to Lyon and beyond. [60] There is on the other hand currently no funding for the missing segment of high-speed line between Montpellier and Perpignan, which would cut journey times between the two countries by an additional hour.

Another high-speed rail link connecting the two countries is planned via Irun/Hendaye, but is not currently funded.

Crossing the Alps

The north–south axis has been improved by the Swiss NRLA project already in 2007 with the Lötschberg Base Tunnel and in 2016 with the currently world's longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Further international links between Italy and France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia are under way. These links all incorporate extensive new tunnelling under the Alps. European Union funding has already been approved for the Turin–Lyon high-speed railway, which will connect the TGV and TAV networks, and for a link with Slovenia. In Slovenia, Pendolino-based trainsets are operated by Slovenian Railways as the InterCitySlovenija. Trains connect the capital Ljubljana with Maribor and also with Koper in the summer months. One unit operated as EC Casanova on the line LjubljanaVenice, but this service was discontinued in April 2008.

Between Austria and Italy, the Brenner Base Tunnel is being constructed to upgrade the Berlin–Palermo railway axis.

Future projects adjacent to existing high-speed services

Magistrale for Europe

Planned high-speed rail link Paris - Bratislava Magistrale for Europe.gif
Planned high-speed rail link Paris – Bratislava

The Magistrale for Europe (MoE) is a Trans-European Networks (TEN) project for the creation of a high-speed railway line between Paris and Bratislava. It is TEN project No. 17 (Paris – Bratislava), and is already under way. [61]

MoE adds a connection from Vienna to Budapest. The project is planned to be completed by 2020. It will link 34 million people in five countries. The overall length of the route is 1,500 km.


The Western Railway between the capital Vienna and Salzburg is being upgraded. Most new sections have a continuous maximum design speed of 250 km/h. [62] German and Austrian ICE trains operate at a maximum speed of 230 km/h, as do Austrian locomotive-hauled trains (called railjet ) which were launched in 2008.

The 55 km (34 mi) Brenner Base Tunnel under construction will allow speeds of up to 250 km/h. [63] [64] The first part of the New Lower Inn Valley railway was opened in December 2012 as part of an upgrade of the line connecting the future Brenner Base Tunnel and southern Germany, which is being upgraded from two tracks to four and to a maximum design speed of 250 km/h. The section is also part of the Berlin–Palermo railway axis.

The Koralm Railway, the first entirely new railway line in the Second Austrian Republic has been under construction since 2006. It includes a new 33 km tunnel (the Koralm Tunnel) connecting the cities of Klagenfurt and Graz. Primarily built for intermodal freight transport, it will also be used by passenger trains travelling at up to 250 km/h. The time taken to travel from Klagenfurt to Graz will be reduced from three hours to one hour. The Koralmbahn is expected to be operational by 2025.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
Western Railway 250 km/h312.2 kmUnknown9 December 2012 (Vienna–St. Pölten)
New Lower Inn Valley railway 250 km/h40.236 kmUnknown9 December 2012
Koralm Railway 250 km/h125 km20012025 [65]
Semmering Base Tunnel 230 km/h27.3 km20122026 [66]
Brenner Base Tunnel 250 km/h56 kmSummer 20062032 [67]


SBB EuroCity entering the Gotthard Base Tunnel GBT north.jpg
SBB EuroCity entering the Gotthard Base Tunnel

The French-Swiss co-operation TGV Lyria and German ICE lines extend into Switzerland, but given the dense rail traffic, short distances between Swiss cities (because of the country's small size) and the often difficult terrain, they do not attain speeds higher than 200 km/h (ICE3) or 160 km/h (TGV, ICE1, ICE2). The fastest Swiss train is the SBB RABe 501 also named Giruno. It is operated by the Swiss Federal Railways since May 2016. They can reach higher speeds than conventional trains on the curve-intensive Swiss network, however the top speed of 200 km/h can only be reached on high-speed lines. The former Cisalpino consortium owned by the Swiss Federal Railways and Trenitalia used Pendolino tilting trains on two of its international lines. These trains are now operated by the Swiss Federal Railways and Trenitalia.

To address transalpine freight and passenger bottlenecks on its roads and railways, Switzerland launched the Rail2000 and NRLA projects. The first stage of the Rail2000 project finished in 2005, included a new high-speed rail track between Bern and Olten with an operating speed of 200 km/h. The NRLA project has built faster north–south rail tracks across the Swiss Alps by constructing base tunnels several hundred metres below the level of the old tunnels. The 35 km Lötschberg Base Tunnel opened in 2007 where New Pendolino trains run at 250 km/h. The 57 km Gotthard Base Tunnel (Top speed 250 km/h) was opened in 2016 which was followed by the Ceneri Base Tunnel in 2020 completing the NRLA project.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganConstruction completed or
expected start of revenue services
Mattstetten–Rothrist new line 200 km/h45 km19962004
Lötschberg Base Tunnel 250 km/h35 km19942007
Gotthard Base Tunnel 250 km/h57 km19992016
Ceneri Base Tunnel 250 km/h15 km20062020

United Kingdom

Outline map of the planned HS2 rail line in the UK UK high speed rail map.png
Outline map of the planned HS2 rail line in the UK

The United Kingdom's first dedicated high-speed line, High Speed 1 between London and the Channel Tunnel, opened 14 November 2007 on time and under budget. A second line, High Speed 2, is currently under construction between London and Birmingham with later extensions to Manchester and Leeds. Like Finnish and Russian counterparts, the strongest reasons for new high-speed lines are to relieve congestion on the existing network and create extra capacity.

The Eurostar Class 373 trains, which run through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and both France and Belgium, are substantially different versions of the TGV trains, with support for four voltages, of them two present in the UK, both pantograph and third-rail power collection (although the third-rail shoe-gear has now been removed following the opening of High-Speed 1), the ability to adapt to multiple platform heights, and to cope with no fewer than seven different signalling modes. Like the TGVs, Eurostar trains are articulated with bogies between the carriages, and most units have 18 passenger carriages and two power cars (the end passenger carriages also have their outer bogies powered). New Class 374 trains were introduced in November 2015, and are able to carry passengers to destinations beyond the core routes to Paris and Brussels. A Class 374 train has 900 seats, roughly equivalent to six Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s (the aircraft typically used by low-cost airlines). These trains operate at the highest scheduled speeds of any in the UK, using a high-speed line between the Channel Tunnel and St Pancras station in London (High Speed 1) which was fully opened in November 2007.

Eurostar high speed trains at St Pancras Station. E320 Eurostar nearest the camera, older Alsthom stock behind at St Pancras.jpg
Eurostar high speed trains at St Pancras Station.

The remainder of Britain's railway network is considerably slower. No trains run faster than 125 mph (201 km/h) using routes largely established in the middle years of the nineteenth century. A major reason for this limit is the lack of in-cab signalling, which has been deemed necessary by safety authorities for higher speeds. The speed limit on some sections of the East Coast Main Line was experimentally raised to 140 mph (225 km/h) during the upgrade and electrification of the route during the 1980s (both the Pendolinos used on the West Coast Main Line and the InterCity 225s used on the East Coast Main Line are capable of 140 mph (225 km/h)) using flashing green signals to indicate the line ahead was clear for this speed. The line speed was later restored to 125 mph (201 km/h), and the flashing green system is no longer in use.

An attempt was made in the 1970s and 1980s to introduce a high-speed train that could operate on Britain's winding infrastructure – British Rail developed the Advanced Passenger Train using active tilting technology. After four prototypes had been built and tested, the project was closed down when Margaret Thatcher and British Rail's management lost confidence in the technology. The tilting action on demonstration runs induced a feeling akin to seasickness in the passengers, leading to the train being nicknamed the "vomit comet", and the prototypes were expensive to operate and unreliable. However, the problems were near to a solution, and ultimately the technology was a success. British Rail sold it to an Italian firm, which fixed the problems. Trains based on the older technology have been in service in Italy for several years. In 2004, following a large investment in the West Coast Main Line, tilting Pendolinos, based on the Italian trains, were introduced. These trains are limited to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) although they were designed to run faster—cost over-runs on the track and signalling refurbishment project led to the line being rebuilt with the lower speed limit rather than the 140 mph (230 km/h) originally planned; this is also true of the InterCity 225 used on the East Coast Main Line which also has a design speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). The Class 390 Pendolinos are operated by Avanti West Coast, on services from London Euston to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Wolverhampton and Manchester.

Several alternative proposals for domestic British high-speed lines have been put forward. For more information, see High-speed rail in the United Kingdom.

The UK has six lines with a permitted speed of 200 km/h or more across at least one section, but only one has an operating speed of more than 250 km/h on at least one section. These are as follows:

Nordic Countries


Current completed and approved high-speed lines set to be built or upgraded in Denmark. Danish rail network approved lines.svg
Current completed and approved high-speed lines set to be built or upgraded in Denmark.

As of 2020, Denmark has a single high-speed line: Copenhagen–Ringsted Line, designed for a permitted speed of 250 km/h. The Øresund Bridge is designed for a maximum speed of 200 km/h, but pending a signalling upgrade, this is only achieved a few km into Denmark by using Swedish signalling. An upgrade of Sydbanen to 200 km/h is underway, and construction on the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, which includes a 200 km/h rail tunnel, will begin in 2021. [68]

Denmark's two biggest cities, Copenhagen and Aarhus, are about 300 km apart, and there is a political target to reach a two-hour traveling time, and 200 km/h is set as a target speed. [69] Some parts are planned to be rerouted because the present railway is curvy there and they are likely to be designed for higher than 200 km/h.

The top speed of some parts of the main lines allow trains to travel at 180 km/h, [70] these are however small sections of the main lines which are quickly passed onto slower sections around 140–160 km/h. Most parts of the rail network are unelectrified – thus slowing acceleration and top speed. [71] Since 2007 it has been common practice for the infrastructure provider Banedanmark to pad the timetables with extra time to a near European record, resulting in railway companies which only utilize the top speeds to make up for lost time. [72] [73] Some of the rolling stock running on the Danish rail network are capable of reaching 200 km, the SJ 2000 and the IC4.

Denmark's unique signalling system, which contains numerous obsolete components, is being replaced with a new one, the ERTMS 2, to be finished in 2030. This is a requirement for speeds higher than 180 km/h. [74] [75]

A new 60 km Copenhagen–Ringsted Line was completed in 2019. It has maximum 180 km/h until ERTMS is installed in around 2023, then allowing speeds up to 250 km/h. The railway line from Ringsted towards the future Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link was upgraded to 160 km/h in 2010, and will be upgraded to a 200 km/h doubletracked line in 2021. [76] Once this project is finished, Denmark would be able to link the Swedish high-speed lines with the rest of the European high-speed rail network. As Germany is electrifying and upgrading the Lübeck–Puttgarden railway from the current limit of between 100 and 160 km/h to 200 km/h, the only non-highspeed section will be Lübeck–Hamburg.

In 2013 the Danish Government (consisting of the parties: the Social Democrats, the Danish Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party) along with the supporting party Red–Green Alliance and the opposition party Danish People's Party entered an ambitious political agreement on the infrastructure project called "The Train Fund DK". The main component of the agreement is to raise taxes on the oil companies operating in the Danish parts of the North Sea in order to raise 2,8 billion pounds[ clarification needed ] earmarked for railway upgrades. The first priority is to reduce the travelling time between Denmark's two biggest cities, Copenhagen and Aarhus to two hours. This includes upgrading all main lines to handle speeds up to 200 km/h and building three new high-speed lines with speeds up to 250 km/h, which later can be upgraded to 300 km/h. Furthermore, all main lines and many regional lines will be electrified. [77] [78]

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganStart of revenue services
Øresund fixed link 200 km/h7 km19952000
Copenhagen–Ringsted Line [79] 250 km/h60 km2011June 2019 [80]
RingstedFehmarn [81] 200 km/h115 km2013Expected 2028 [82]


Running speeds on the Finnish railway network. Finnish railroad network speeds 2011.svg
Running speeds on the Finnish railway network.

In Finland the national railway company VR operates tilting Alstom Pendolino trains. The trains reach their maximum speed of 220 km/h in regular operation on a 60 kilometre route between Kerava and Lahti. This portion of track was opened in 2006. The trains can run at 200 km/h on a longer route between Helsinki and Seinäjoki and peak at that speed between Helsinki and Turku. [83] The main railway line between Helsinki and Oulu is being upgraded between Seinäjoki and Oulu to allow for trains to run at speeds between 160 and 200 km/h. [84] Other parts of the Finnish railway network are limited to lower speed.

A new service called Allegro started between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg, Russia, in December 2010 with a journey time of 3½ hours. It utilizes a new Pendolino model, supporting both Finnish and Russian standards. [85] [86] Four new trains have been delivered, with a top speed of 220 km/h.

Between 2007 and 2010 the Russian line from the Finnish border to Saint Petersburg was electrified and improved to allow higher running speeds. The Finnish line (Riihimäki – Saint Petersburg Railway) was also upgraded where needed, mostly to 200 km/h. The planned Helsinki–Turku high-speed railway featuring new track from Espoo to Salo would be capable of maximum speeds of 300 km/h, making this the fastest railway in Finland once built.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
ELSA-rata (Espoo-Salo Railway)300 km/h95 kmPlanned2031


A 49 km long railway, the first in Iceland, is planned to link Keflavík International Airport to the capital city of Reykjavík in order to relieve one of the country's busiest roads. The railway will accommodate high-speed trains of up to 250 km/h, with an average speed of 180 km/h, which will enable the distance to be travelled within just 18 minutes. As of 2016, construction was to begin in 2020. [87] As of 2019, construction was to begin in 2022. [88]

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
Reykjavik Airport Rail Link250 km/h49 kmPlanned (construction 2022 as of 2019) [89] 2025

Note that as of 2021 the Airport Rail Link is fairly much on hold, with little written about it after 2017 (usually called Fluglestin  [ is ] in Icelandic).


The Flytoget at Oslo station, Norway Flytoget Oslo S.jpg
The Flytoget at Oslo station, Norway

Norway has several high speed stretches radiating from Oslo. These have speeds ranging from 200 km/h to 250 km/h. Several new railroad stretches are under construction and the complete Intercity triangle from Oslo will be finished by 2030.

Norway's only high-speed line is the 64 km Gardermobanen (The Gardermoen Railway), which links Oslo Airport (OSL) with the metropolitan areas of Oslo. Here the Flytoget (the Airport Express Train) and some of the NSB (Norwegian State Railways) trains operate at speeds of up to 210 km/h (130 mph). [90] Gardermobanen contributes to give rail transport a relatively high market share. Almost 38% of the OSL passengers come by train, about 21% by bus, and about 40% by car.

Some more new high-speed lines are planned to be built in the Oslo region, during the 2010 and 2020 decades. Today, however, only small parts of Norway's rail network do permit speed faster than 130 km/h.

There is a political climate for building more high-speed railway services in Norway, including long-distance lines from Oslo to Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger and Gothenburg. They are assumed to be dedicated single-track high-speed railways having up to 250 km/h (160 mph). This is still at the feasibility planning stages. [91]

The Norwegian government is examining five lines radiating out from Oslo to Bergen, Kristiansand/Stavanger, Trondheim, Göteborg, and Stockholm. A sixth line would be a coastal line between Bergen, Haugesund and Stavanger. At least two investigations on cost and benefit have been made. A more indepth analysis covering route analysis of the 6 lines will be made on order by the Norwegian government beginning late 2010. [92]

The closest 50–100 km from Oslo on each of these lines have good potential for regional trains (except towards Stockholm). Upgrade and new construction to high-speed standard have to some extent already taken place like for Gardermobanen. More is being built and is planned, but with the present ambition it will take decades to have high-speed standard the closest 100 km from Oslo on all these lines. The ambition is to some day have 200 km/h or more to Halden, Skien, Hønefoss and Hamar. These projects have higher priority than the long-distance projects. They are also preconditions for the long-distance projects, since they will be used by long-distance trains.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
Drammen – Tønsberg 200–250 km/h≈63 km19932012–≈2025
Eidsvoll – Hamar 200–250 km/h≈60 km20122015–≈2025
Oslo – Ski 250 km/h22.5 km20202021

Parts of the new built route Drammen – Tønsberg is in operation with trains (Stadler FLIRT) capable of 200 km/h.


Sweden today runs many trains at 200 km/h (120 mph), including the X2 tilting trains, widebody and double-decker regional trains, and the Arlanda Airport Express X3. Since both the X2 and X3 are allowed to run at 205 km/h (127 mph) in case of delay[ citation needed ], they can technically be considered as high-speed trains. The X2 runs between many cities in Sweden including Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö. The Arlanda Express trains connect Stockholm and Stockholm-Arlanda Airport.

Newly built lines such as the West Coast Line, the Svealand line and the Bothnia line of the network can be relatively easily upgraded to 250 km/h (160 mph). This requires new signalling system, new trains and perhaps other minor efforts. The old main lines are difficult to upgrade due costs for increasing the bearing of the track. Most bridges and long sections of the main lines need to be rebuilt to allow 250 km/h.

There are investigations regarding high-speed trains in Sweden, and to evaluate if the Western and Southern Mainline should be upgraded to 250 km/h or if a whole new network of high-speed railway for 280–320 km/h (170–200 mph) should be built between StockholmLinköpingJönköpingGothenburg and between JönköpingMalmöCopenhagen. The plan is to ease the situation on the existing railways that are relatively congested, combined with better travel times between both the largest three cities in Sweden, as well as fast regional trains between the cities along the routes (which today in many cases have no or slow railways).

An informal date suggestion by the Banverket is operation by year 2030. For two parts (SödertäljeLinköping and MölnlyckeBollebygd) detailed planning is done, and they are expected to have construction start by around 2017 and be in operation by around 2025. [93] [94]

Many of the newly built railway lines in Sweden are adapted for speeds up to 250 km/h, such as Botniabanan, Grödingebanan, Mälarbanan, Svealandsbanan, Västkustbanan, and Vänernbanan. [95] The problem that is slowing down high-speed rail in Sweden is the present signaling system (ATC), which does not allow speeds over 200 km/h. It can be upgraded, but it will not be done since it shall be replaced by the European signaling system ERTMS level 2 on major lines in the near future, allowing high speeds up to 250 km/h. [96] ERTMS level 2 has been installed and is being tried out on Botniabanan, and that railway allows 250 km/h, although no passenger train goes above 200 for now. The train set X55-Regina has been delivered to the rail company SJ with the max speed of 200 km/h but with the option to upgrade the EMU to 250 km/h when possible. [97] Also the mix with freight trains slow down the practical speed.

There are four major high-speed projects proposed in Sweden with speeds between 250 and 350 km/h (160–220 mph).

The three first listed, but not Europabanan, have been prospected by Trafikverket. In several cases the detailed alignment have been decided. The Swedish Conservative government 2006–2014 showed little interest in major railway projects. But the socialist/environmentalist government has from 2014 started further negotiations on stations and other alignment. There is plan to start building Gothenburg – Borås and Ostlänken in 2019. The other railways are expected to be built some years after.



Turkish HSR Network: High-speed rail lines in service, those under construction, and those in the planning stages Rail transport map of Turkey.png
Turkish HSR Network: High-speed rail lines in service, those under construction, and those in the planning stages

Turkey started building high-speed rail lines in 2003 aiming a double-track high-speed rail network through the country allowing a maximum speed of 250 km/h. [103] Only the planned line between İstanbul, Edirne and Kapıkule is situated in the European part of the country.

The first line that was built aimed to connect İstanbul to Ankara (via Eskişehir) reducing the travel time from 6 – 7 hours to 3 hours 10 minutes. The Eskişehir-Ankara line started operating regular services on 14 March 2009 with a maximum speed of 250 km/h, being the first High Speed Rail Service in Turkey making the Turkish State Railways the 6th European national rail company to offer HSR services (although these are situated in the Asian part of the country). The Eskişehir-İstanbul line is still under construction and was due in 2015. [104]

The Ankara – Konya line construction began in 2006. The travel time is projected to be decreased to 70 minutes on this route. The construction of the Ankara – KırıkkaleYozgatSivas line began in February 2009. Several other HSR line projects between major cities such as Ankara – AfyonUşakİzmir, İstanbul – Bursa, İstanbul – EdirneKapıkule (Bulgarian border) have reached their final design and are expected to pass to the contraction phase soon. Ankara – Kayseri and EskişehirAfyonAntalya lines are planned to be built in the coming years. The KonyaMersinAdana and SivasErzincanErzurumKars lines were mentioned by the prime minister and the minister of transport. The total length of constructed lines is claimed to be 4,600 km, with long-term plans to expand the network to 11,000 km.

The first 12 high-speed trainsets are ordered from CAF company, Spain. Several new trainsets from Siemens were also bought for the Ankara-Konya line.

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
AnkaraSivas 250 km/h446 km20092021
BandırmaBursaOsmaneli 200 km/h201 km20122023
Ankaraİzmir 250 km/h654 km20122022 (Ankara to Afyonkarahisar) 2023 (İzmir)
KonyaKaraman 200 km/h102 km20142021
Karaman – Ulukışla 200 km/h135 km20162021
MersinAdanaGaziantep 200 km/h311 km20202023
İstanbulKapıkule (Bulgarian border)200 km/h229 km20192023


Development of a modern rail network for Greece has been a major goal since the 1990s. In 1996, construction of what is currently known as the P.A.Th.E./P. was given the go-ahead. The line, which should have opened by 2004, will link Patras, Athens, Thessaloniki and the Greece–North Macedonia and Greece–Bulgaria borders in Idomeni and Promachonas respectively. The project faced lack of funding and construction difficulties. Although some sections have opened, the line will not be fully operational before 2018. [105]

LineSpeedLengthConstruction beganExpected start of revenue services
PatrasAthensThessaloniki – borders with Republic of North Macedonia & Bulgaria160 – 200 km/happrox. 700 km19942018 (parts already in operation)

Hungary and Romania

The two countries have agreed in November 2007 to build a high-speed line between their capital cities Budapest and Bucharest which would be a part of a larger transportation corridor Paris-Vienna-Budapest-Bucharest-Constanța. There is no clear schedule for the project yet, but feasibility studies, ecological impact studies and right-of-way land purchase should not begin before 2009. The link will be designed to support speeds up to 300 km/h, but no technical details have been made public as of March 2008. At the moment railway from Bucharest to Constanța support speeds up to 160 km/h. The plan for a high-speed railway through Budapest-Arad-Sibiu-Brașov-Bucharest-Constanța was officially included in the revised TEN-T plan in October 2013 as part of the Rhine-Danube Corridor. [106] Works are planned to be carried out between 2017 and 2025. [106]

Hungary and Serbia

There are currently ongoing negotiations between two countries and China to build a high-speed line between their capital cities Budapest and Belgrade, as a part of a larger corridor Budapest-Belgrade-Niš-Skopje-Thessaloniki-Athens. It is expected to upgrade current Budapest–Belgrade railway line to 200 km/h. Construction of the railway line in Serbia started in September 2017, when construction of the tunnel Čortanovci began. [107] The railway for speed up to 200 km/h between Stara Pazova and Novi Sad (43 km) is planned to be finished until November 2021 and the railway between Belgrade and Stara Pazova (34,5 km) till the end of 2020. [108] [109]

Other high-speed projects

Several other countries in Europe have launched or planned high-speed rail programmes. Due to geographic challenges, these projects are likely to remain national in scope for the foreseeable future, without international links to existing high-speed networks.


In 2017 Belarus authorities agreed to offer land territories to Chinese corporation CRCC for construction of a high-speed corridor between the EU and Russia through country territory. Chinese engineering companies are also interested in building highways and Russian high-speed railways running in connection with this route with possible interchange with the Moscow-Kazan high-speed corridor. [110]

The Baltics

A north/south Rail Baltica line from Tallinn to Kaunas is planned to be constructed starting in 2019 and in service by 2026. The line would connect Tallinn and Kaunas via Pärnu, Riga and Panevėžys, while also providing connections to airports and railway terminals. The railway will be the first high-speed, 1435mm standard gauge railway in the Baltics. From Kaunas, it will be connected to the already existing high-speed network in Poland. Project speeds are 240 km/h for passenger trains and 120 km/h for freight traffic. About 80% of construction costs (totalling ca. 5 billion €) will be covered by the European Union, the rest will be paid jointly by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian governments. Indirectly the railway may also link Helsinki, as there are plans for a Tallinn-Helsinki railway tunnel. [111]

The project has been surrounded with controversy in all states, mainly due to environmental concerns and the cost of the project. According to surveys conducted to Estonia, public support remains around 60%, with the percent higher amongst people living in Tallinn and amongst people with higher education, while the percent drops in rural areas. Controversy has also surrounded the choice of route, with some proposing that the railway should also go through Tartu and Vilnius. However this has been dismissed as they are large detours, would increase the cost and bring no sufficient benefit. [112]


With the highway construction programme in its final stages, the Croatian parliament has passed a bill to build its first high-speed line, a new BotovoZagrebRijeka line, with an initial maximum planned speed of 250 km/h. [113] [114] Initially, however, the train will not exceed 200kmh due to a signaling system which can only accommodate speeds up to 200kmh. The cost of the new line is estimated at 9,244,200,000 kuna (approx. 1.6 bil USD). The project will include the modernisation of the current Botovo-Zagreb line and a construction of a completely new line between Zagreb and Rijeka.

Also, the Pan-European Corridor X, running from the Slovenian border, through Zagreb, to Serbian border is a likely future candidate for the high-speed extension to this line. It is the most modern Croatian track, already initially built for 160 km/h and fully electrified and connects most branch lines in Croatia, rapidly growing Croatian cities of Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci, and Pan-European Corridor Vc towards Osijek and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Czech Republic

Czech Railways have been running the Super City Pendolino from Prague to Ostrava since 2005. The Pendolino is capable of operating at 230 km/h (143 mph), but trains that are in service are limited to 160 km/h due to the speeds the railways were constructed for. These limits may be raised in the future to 200 km/h (124 mph), last parts of 4th transit corridor (PragueČeské Budějovice) are already projected for 200 km/h (124 mph). [115] The railjet is also capable of 230 km/h and reaches that speed in Austria and Germany but is likewise limited to 160 km/h in the Czech Republic.

The Velim railway test circuit contains a large 13.3-kilometre track with a maximum allowed speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) for tilting trains and up to 210 km/h (130 mph) for conventional trains. [116]

The Czech Ministry of Transportation is planning a high-speed rail network which will be roughly 660 km long. [117] Several studies of a possible network have been completed, but there have not yet been any concrete proposals. [118] There are no expectations for any operation before 2020, but Czech railway infrastructure manager (Správa železniční dopravní cesty) has a special budget for preparatory studies. There is also promotion from side of NGOs, e.g. Centrum pro Efektivní Dopravu [119]

Both the Czech Republic and the German state of Saxony have expressed interest in a high-speed line linking Dresden and Prague via Ústí nad Labem. The line would include a tunnel through the Ore Mountains and relieve the congested Dresden Děčin Railway through the Elbe valley, which currently (2016) is the only electrified line linking Germany and the Czech Republic and serves as an important freight link to the North Sea ports. However, the proposal for the Bundesverkehrswegeplan 2015 (federal transportation plan) which lies out German transportation priorities until 2030 does not include the line in its highest priority category, making construction unlikely in the near term. [120]


Ireland's fastest Intercity service is the Dublin to Cork "InterCity" service, which operates at 160 km/h (99 mph). Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) has bought new Mark4 Coaches from CAF of Spain, which have a design speed of 200 km/h (120 mph). However, they are operated with 10-year-old Class 201 locomotives with a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). Iarnród Éireann plan to purchase powercars and upgrade the route to 200 km/h (120 mph) standard. On the Dublin to Belfast line, IÉ are considering the following options for after 2020 (when the life of the existing De Dietrich Ferroviaire coaches will have expired):

In 2020 the Irish Government confirmed it will be launching a study into an approximately 500 km high-speed railway from Belfast via Dublin to Cork and Limerick, [121] which could cost around €15 billion. [122]


Polish Railways New Pendolino in Wroclaw, southern Poland Polish Pendolino front 2.JPG
Polish Railways New Pendolino in Wrocław, southern Poland

Today, the main cities of Poland are linked by railway transport reaching 160 km/h. On 14 December 2014, Polish State Railways started passenger service trains PKP Pendolino ED250 operating 200 km/h speed on 80 km line Olszamowice-Zawiercie (part of railway line called Central Trunk Line (CMK) from Warsaw to Katowice). Currently it is the line with highest railway speed in Poland. Several other sections of the Central Trunk Line will soon allow speeds of 200 km/h (with a current speed record set up by Pendolino Train on 21 November 2013 in Poland of 293 km/h). According to recent plans of PKP-PLK, sections of CMK between Warsaw and Gdańsk (145 km) and Warsaw-Kraków (additional 80 km) will be added to present section from no later than December 2015. That will make about 300 km of railways available for speed of 200 km/h. Other sections will start operating at 200 km/h in 2016.

Polish Railways for many years did not possess the rolling stock to achieve speeds over 160 km/h. Polish Railways planned to buy Pendolino trains in 1998, but the contract was cancelled the following year by the Supreme Control Chamber due to financial losses by Polish Railways. However, a new contract with Alstom Transport worth 665 million euros was signed in May 2011 and since December 2014, 20 Pendolino units service the Katowice/Kraków – Gdynia line and Wrocław/Warsaw line. However, Pendolinos in Poland are not equipped with tilting system, which would not be very useful on the flat Polish Plains. The lack of a tilting system for the Pendolino train along with choosing Alstom Transportation despite domestic train producers was a subject of broad debate in media and Polish Railways were heavily criticised for that purchase.

Other current plans call for a 'Y' line that will connect Warsaw, Łódź and Kalisz, with branches to Wrocław and Poznań. The geometric layout of the line will be designed to permit speeds of 360 km/h. Construction was planned to begin around 2014 and finish in 2019. In the centre of the city of Łódź the 'Y' line will travel through a tunnel which will link two existing railway stations. One of them, Łódź Fabryczna, will be reconstructed as an underground station, work being scheduled to start in July 2010. [123] In April 2009, four companies qualified for the second phase of a public tender to prepare a feasibility study for construction of the line. In April 2010, the tender for a feasibility study was awarded to a consortium led by Spanish company Ingenieria IDOM. [124] The feasibility study project has been granted €80 million in subsidy from European Union. [125] The total cost of the line including construction and train sets has been estimated at €6.9bn and is planned to be financed partially by EU subsidies. [126]

In December 2013, the project was delayed. However, Łódź Fabryczna Railway Station which is the central point of the line is in its second phase of construction and is the largest such project in Central Europe. In November 2013 Sławomir Nowak, the Minister of Transport and opponent of Y-line was dismissed and consultations about the Y-line are undergoing.

There are also many plans to upgrade existing lines. The "Y" line links will possibly be extended to Berlin from Poznań and Prague from Wrocław, most probably by upgrading existing lines.

The European Train Control System is being introduced.

A Warszawa-Toruń-Gdańsk high-speed railway is also in planning stages.

New rolling stock of home companies (Newag, Pesa Bydgoszcz) have appeared in 2012 and 2013 such as Newag Impuls Train that exceed the speed of 160 km/h.

In the day of 13 December 2020 speed limit was raised to 200 km/h on the line from Warsaw to seaport Gdynia by New Pendolino train. [127]

Animated GIF of highspeed trains plan from 2020 to 2034


An Alfa Pendular train when its current livery was introduced (2017) CPA 4009.jpg
An Alfa Pendular train when its current livery was introduced (2017)

Since the 1990s, the Italian tilting train, the Pendolino, runs the Alfa Pendular service, connecting Portugal's mainland from the north border to the Algarve, its southern counterpart, at a speed of up to 220 km/h (140 mph).

High-speed connections between Spain and Portugal have been agreed upon and planned, but initial works had yet to begin when the projects were cancelled in 2012. [128] The Portuguese government had approved the construction of six high-speed lines from the capital Lisbon to Porto, from Porto to Vigo, from Aveiro to Salamanca, from Lisbon to Faro, from Faro to Seville and from Lisbon to Madrid, Spain, bringing the two countries' capital cities within three hours of each other, at a max speed of 350 km/h. [129]

On 8 May 2010, The Portuguese Transport Minister signed off the 40-year PPP covering the construction of the Lisbon–Madrid high-speed line. The total cost was then put at €1.359bn for a double-track standard gauge line from Lisbon to the Spanish border. Also included was a broad gauge line from the Portuguese port of Sines to the Spanish border. The line was expected to open by the end of 2013 and would reduce the journey time between Lisbon and Madrid to 2 hours 45 minutes, [130] the project however, was cancelled in March 2012. [128] In October 2020 the government proposed a 75-minute rail link between the country's two main cities, Lisbon and Porto. [131] Also, the Atlantic Axis of the Northwestern Peninsula – Eixo Atlântico do Noroeste Peninsular high-speed railway connection between Portugal and Galicia (covering all the main cities between Setúbal-Vigo) was favoured as of 2020. [132]

Line [44] SpeedLengthExpected start of revenue services
Lisbon–Madrid high-speed rail line 350 km/h640 kmproject cancelled [128]
Lisbon–Porto high-speed rail line 300 km/h292 kmearly project cancelled [128] and repurposed in 2020 [131]
Porto–Vigo high-speed rail line 250 km/h125 kmproject cancelled [128] and repurposed in 2020


Two experimental high-speed trainsets (designed for 200 km/h operation) were built in 1974: locomotive-hauled RT-200 ("Russkaya Troika") and ER-200 EMU. The RT-200 set made only experimental runs in 1975 and 1980 and was discontinued due to unavailability of the ChS-200 high-speed locomotive – they were only delivered later. The ER-200 EMU was put into regular service in 1984. In 1992 a second ER-200 trainset was built in Riga. Both sets were in operation till 28 February 2009. [133]

Instead of these outdated domestic trainsets, imported trainsets have been in operation since March 2009. Siemens Velaro trainsets have operated since 2009 between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, at speeds of up to 250 km/h (155 mph) and since 2010 between Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow, where service is limited to 160 km/h (99 mph). The Pendolino Sm6, similar to Finnish high-speed trains, began operation in 2010 between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki at up to 220 km/h (137 mph).

In February 2010 RZhD announced it would shortly release a proposal for a new high-speed line to be built parallel to the existing line between Saint Petersburg and Moscow due to congestion on the existing line. [134] In April 2010 it was confirmed that a new Moscow–Saint Petersburg high-speed line with length of 660 km and running speed of up to 400 km/h was envisioned, cutting the journey time from 3h 45m to 2h 30m. It is expected the line to include stops at both Saint Petersburg and Moscow region airports. [135] [136] On 28 January 2011, Russia announced that the high speed rail link between Moscow and Saint Petersburg will be finished on time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The cost is expected to be "somewhere around" 10 to 15 billion euros, not including land purchases, said Denis Muratov, general director of High-Speed Rail Lines. [137] The state will shoulder up to 70 percent of construction costs, with the remainder coming from outside investors. Most of that money is likely to come from international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Muratov said. Sberbank, VTB and VEB may also be interested. In fact, construction of this new Moscow–Saint Petersburg high-speed line didn't start.

Instead of it, on 13 May 2015 the Russian government announced that China Railway Group Ltd will build a 400 km/h high speed rail link from Moscow to Kazan by 2018 in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup where Kazan is one of the cities that will host some of the football matches. The cost of the Moscow–Kazan link is estimated at $21.4 billion. Train travel from Moscow to Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, will be shortened to just 3.5 hours instead of the more than 14 hours that it takes now.[ citation needed ] The opening date was later changed to 2020.[ citation needed ]

LineSpeedLengthExpected start of revenue services
Moscow–Kazan[ citation needed ]400 km/h770 km (301 km initial section)2020 (postponed after crisis)

In development

Cross border

CountriesLineSpeed (km/h)Length (km)Construction beganExpected start of revenue services
Austria/Italy Brenner Base Tunnel 2505620062032
Finland/Russia/Norway Arctic Railway 2505262025+2030+
Germany/Switzerland Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed railway 25018219871993–2030
Germany/Czech RepublicPraha – Dresden railway200–32070+20252030–2035
Germany/Denmark Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link 200182020 (planned)2028
Sweden/Denmark HH Tunnel 20060Unknown2030–2040
Portugal/Spain Lisbon–Madrid high-speed rail line [44] 350640cancelled [128]
Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania Rail Baltica 25087020182023–2026
Estonia/Finland Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel undecided1032025 (estimate)2040 (estimate)
United Kingdom/Ireland Celtic Crossing 25041 km [138] to 110 km [139] 2025+ (insisted)2030+
Portugal/Spain Porto–Vigo high-speed rail line [44] 250125cancelled [128]


CountryLineSpeed (km/h)Length (km)Construction beganExpected start of revenue services
Austria Koralm Railway 25012520012022
Austria North Railway 20077.9Unknown2030 (upgrading)
AustriaNew Lower Inn Valley railway (extension)25090unknown2030
BelgiumLine 25N2002020122020–2027
Belgium Line 50A 20028.82018Unknown (upgrading)
BelgiumLine 96N20013.61997Unknown (upgrading)
Czech RepublicPrague–České Budějovice20016620202023–2026
Czech RepublicPraha–Poříčany20025.9220202023
Czech RepublicBrno–Přerov20090.120212025
Czech Republic Ejpovický tunel 160 (200 planned)4.1520182022
Czech RepublicPraha–Plzeň160 (200 planned)102.852016 (upgrading)2026
Czech RepublicPraha-Brno-Ostrava35035020272035
Czech RepublicPraha-Beroun30024.720282038
Czech RepublicBrno–Breclav3505020272035
Czech RepublicHradec Králové–Polish Border3505020402045
DenmarkRingsted-Fehmarn Line25011520192028
DenmarkRingsted-Odense Line2509620102026+
Denmark Randers–Aalborg line 25080.7unknown2028+
Denmark Aarhus–Randers line 25059.2unknown2028+
Denmark Middelfart-Odense new line 250145unknown2028+
GermanyRhine Railway Karlsruhe-Rastatt25030Unknown2024
GermanyRhine Railway Offenburg-Basel250120Unknown2030
GermanyKinzig Valley Railway (Hesse)20080.620072021 (upgrading)
GermanyAppenweier–Strasbourg railway20013.520102023 (upgrading)
GermanyOberhausen–Arnhem railway200732014unknown (upgrading)
GermanyStuttgart–Wendlingen high-speed railway25025Unknown2025
GermanyWendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway25059.58Unknown2022
GermanyUlm-Augsburg high-speed railway (parallel)2507020232030
GermanyHanau-Gelnhausen high-speed railway3005520252030
GermanyLübeck–Puttgarden railway20088.620202028 (upgrading)
GermanyLübeck–Hamburg railway20062.520202027 (upgrading)
GermanyBerlin–Frankfurt-Am-Oder20081.2Unknown2027 (upgrading)
GermanyBielefeld–Hannover high-speed railway300100unknown2030
Germany Uelzen–Langwedel railway 20097.4unknown2030
Germany Regensburg–Passau railway 20057.320062030
Germany Berlin–Görlitz railway 200114.720232027
Germany Wunstorf–Bremen railway 200122.3unknown2030 (upgrading approved)
Germany Stendal–Uelzen railway 200107.5unknown2030
GreeceEgnatia Railway250565unknown2028+
Greeceroute to Albania250130unknownunknown
HungarySerbian Border-Budapest20015220192023
Italy Verona–Brenner [18] 250276Unknown2025
Italy Tortona–Genoa high-speed railway [18] 2505320132023
ItalyNaples–Foggia railway20019420122026 (upgrading)
NetherlandsRhine Railway200116.3Unknown2023
NetherlandsLelylijn250120Unknownbefore 2030
NorwayDovre Line250–30011020122025
Norway Ringerike Line 2504020212028–2029
Norway Vestfold Line 2506419932024–2032
PolandY-line2504502021 (claimed)2027-2030+
PolandCMK Północ / PKP rail line 52502952025+2030+
PolandShortcut in PKP rail line 9250332020+2025+
PortugalLinha do Sul (another section)2205020152030
PortugalSouth Axis250374.720152030
PortugalHigh-speed mainline300298unknown2030
RussiaGor'kovskaya Railway20042120212024
RussiaHSR Moscow-Saint-Petersburg40067919972024
RussiaHSR Moscow-Kazan400720unknown2030
RussiaHSR Moscow-Adler4001,55020252035
RussiaHSR Ural30021820212027
Spain Mediterranean High Speed Corridor: AndalusiaMurciaValenciaCatalonia–French border [43] 250–350+1,0002016–2020–2030
Spain Madrid–(CáceresMéridaBadajoz)–Lisbon [44] 350640Unknown
SpainL.A.V. Olmedo–ZamoraGalicia 350435 (total); 238,9 (central section under construction)20112015 (end sections); 2020–2022 (central section)
SpainL.A.V. MadridSantander [45] UnknownUnknownUnknown
SpainLeón–Gijón high-speed rail line350Unknown20092020+
Spain Murcia–Almería high-speed rail line 300184.3Unknown2023
SpainL.A.V. Burgos–Vitoria-Gasteiz35098.820092023
Spain Basque Y 250175Unknown2023
SerbiaBelgrade-Stara Pazova20034.520172023
SerbiaStara Pazova-Novi Sad2004320172023
SerbiaNovi Sad-Hungarian Border200106.520192023
Serbia Belgrade-Niš 20020420202023
Slovakia Devínska Nová Ves-Czech border20057.820172030
SwitzerlandJura Foot Railway200104.5unknown (upgrading)2025–2030
Switzerland Lausanne–Geneva railway 20066.18unknown (upgrading)2025–2030
SwitzerlandSimplon Railway200191.41unknown (upgrading)2025–2030
United Kingdom High Speed 2 36223020172031
United Kingdom High Speed 2 (phase 2)3623902022 (planned)2040
United Kingdom Northern Powerhouse Rail 230652022 (planned)2035+
United Kingdom Reading–Taunton line 201173.21Unknown (proposed)Before 2043
United Kingdom Bristol–Exeter line 201121.36Unknown (proposed)Before 2043
United Kingdom South West Main Line 201239.8Unknown (proposed)Before 2043
United KingdomCoventry–Nuneaton-Leicester lines20140Unknown (proposed)Before 2036
United Kingdom Crewe–Derby line 20183Unknown (proposed)Before 2036
United Kingdom Waverley Route Unknown158.1Unknown (proposed)Before 2035 [140]
United Kingdom Welsh Marches line 201225Unknown (proposed)Before 2036
RomaniaBucharest-Cluj2004972020 (originally planned 2019)2025
IcelandAirport Rail Link250492022 (planned) [141] 2025
Finland Helsinki–Turku high-speed railway 30095(planned)2031
Finland East Rail Connection 300126(planned)2027+
SwedenNorth Bothnia Line25027020162028
SwedenGötalandsbanan3204402017 (delayed)2024–2030
Sweden East Link Project 2501602017 (delayed)2033–2036
UkrainePolish border-Lviv-Kiev-Odessa2509002021 (claimed)2030
IrelandDublin-Cork Railway225266early 2000s2023+
FranceLGV Bordeaux–Toulouse3502222019 (planned)2032
FranceLGV Bordeaux–Espagne (Dax to border)35060Unknown2034
FranceLGV Montpellier–Perpignan3501502021 (planned)2027+
FranceLigne nouvelle Paris-Normandie2503102027 (Approved)2035+

See also

Related Research Articles

High-speed rail Fastest rail-based transport systems

High-speed rail (HSR) is a type of rail transport that runs significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialised rolling stock and dedicated tracks. While there is there is no single standard that applies worldwide, lines built to handle speeds in excess of 250 km/h (155 mph) and upgraded lines in excess of 200 km/h (124 mph) are widely considered to be high-speed. The first high-speed rail system, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, began operations in Japan in 1964 and was widely known as the bullet train. High-speed trains mostly operate on standard gauge tracks of continuously welded rail on a grade-separated right-of-way that incorporates a large turning radius in its design. However, certain regions with wider legacy railways, such as parts of the former Russian Empire, have sought to develop a high speed railway network in Russian gauge. Thus far, no high-speed rail is planned or has been built on narrow gauge with the Spirit of Queensland achieving the highest top speed in revenue service on Cape gauge at 160 km/h.

TGV State-owned intercity high-speed rail service of France

The TGV is France's intercity high-speed rail service, operated by SNCF. SNCF worked on a high-speed rail network from 1966 to 1974 and presented the project to President Georges Pompidou who approved it. Originally designed as turbotrains to be powered by gas turbines, TGV prototypes evolved into electric trains with the 1973 oil crisis. In 1976 the SNCF ordered 87 high-speed trains from Alstom. Following the inaugural service between Paris and Lyon in 1981 on the LGV Sud-Est, the network, centered on Paris, has expanded to connect major cities across France and in neighbouring countries on a combination of high-speed and conventional lines. The TGV network in France carries about 110 million passengers a year.

AVE High-speed rail network in Spain

Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) is a service of high-speed rail in Spain operated by Renfe, the Spanish national railway company, at speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph). As of August 2017, the Spanish AVE system is the longest HSR network in Europe with 3,240 km (2,010 mi) and the second longest in the world, after China's.

LGV Est French high-speed railway

The Ligne à Grande Vitesse Est européenne, typically shortened to LGV Est, is a French high-speed rail line that connects Vaires-sur-Marne and Vendenheim. The line halved the travel time between Paris and Strasbourg and provides fast services between Paris and the principal cities of Eastern France as well as Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. The LGV Est is a segment of the Main Line for Europe project to connect Paris with Budapest with high-speed rail service.

Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line bubba

The Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed railway is a 180-kilometre-long (110 mi) railway line in Germany, connecting the cities of Cologne and Frankfurt. Its route follows the Bundesautobahn 3 for the greater part, and currently the travel time is about 62 minutes. The line's grades of up to four percent require trains with a high power-to-weight ratio which is currently only met by third-generation Intercity-Express trains. It was constructed between 1995 and 2002 at a total cost of six billion Euro according to Deutsche Bahn.


The HSL 3 is a Belgian high-speed rail line. It connects Liège to the German border near Aachen. The high-speed track length is 42 km (26 mi).

High-speed rail in the United Kingdom Overview of the high-speed rail system in the United Kingdom

High-speed rail in the United Kingdom is provided on five upgraded railway lines running at top speeds of 125 mph (200 km/h) and one purpose-built high-speed line reaching 186 mph (300 km/h).

Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line

The Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed line is an international high-speed rail line between France and Spain. The line consists of a 175.5-kilometre (109.1 mi) railway, of which 24.6 km are in France and 150.8 km are in Spain. It crosses the French–Spanish border via the 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) Perthus Tunnel bored under the Perthus Pass, connecting two cities on opposite sides of the border, Perpignan in Roussillon, France, and Figueres in Catalonia, Spain. The line extends to Barcelona, and this part is sometimes referenced as an extension of the Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line. The Perpignan–Barcelona line is a part of the Mediterranean Corridor.

High-speed rail in Italy Overview of the high-speed rail system in Italy

High-speed rail in Italy consists of two lines connecting most of the country's major cities. The first line connects Turin to Salerno via Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, the second runs from Turin to Venice via Milan, and is under construction in parts. Trains are operated with a top speed of 300 km/h (190 mph).

High-speed rail in Belgium

Belgium's high-speed rail network provides mostly international connections from Brussels to France, Germany and The Netherlands. The high-speed network began with the opening of the HSL 1 to France in 1997, and since then high-speed lines have been extended towards Germany with HSL 2 in 2002, HSL 3 from Liège to the German border in 2009, and HSL 4 from Antwerp to the Dutch border in 2009.

High-speed rail in Germany Overview of the high-speed rail system in Germany

Construction of the first high-speed rail in Germany began shortly after that of the French LGVs. However, legal battles caused significant delays, so that the German Intercity-Express (ICE) trains were deployed ten years after the TGV network was established.

High-speed rail in Portugal Overview of the high-speed rail system in Portugal

In February 2009, the government of Portugal announced plans to build a high-speed rail line from Lisbon to Madrid; this plan was cancelled in March 2012 amidst a bailout programme of financial assistance to the Portuguese Republic. The project was valued at €7.8 billion and the government had claimed it would create 100,000 jobs. The line would link to Spain's Southwest Corridor.

High-speed rail in Finland

Although Finland has no dedicated high-speed rail lines, sections of its rail network are capable of running speeds of 200 km/h (120 mph). The Finnish national railway company VR operates tilting Alstom Pendolino trains. The trains reach their maximum speed of 220 km/h in regular operation on a 75.7 km (47.0 mi) route between Kerava and Lahti. This portion of track was opened in 2006. The trains can run at 200 km/h (120 mph) on a longer route between Helsinki and Seinäjoki and peak at that speed between Helsinki and Turku. The main railway line between Helsinki and Oulu has been upgraded between Seinäjoki and Oulu to allow for trains to run at speeds between 160 km/h (99 mph) and 200 km/h (120 mph). Other parts of the Finnish railway network are limited to lower speed.

Rail transport in Poland

The Polish railways network consists of around 18,510 kilometres (11,500 mi) of track as of 2019, of which 11,998 km (7,455 mi) is electrified. National electrification system is 3 kV DC.

Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line

The Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line is a 621-kilometre (386 mi) standard gauge railway line inaugurated on 20 February 2008. Designed for speeds of 350 km/h (217 mph) and compatibility with neighbouring countries' rail systems, it connects the cities of Madrid and Barcelona in 2 hours 30 minutes. In Barcelona the line is connected with the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line leading into France which connects it to the European high speed network.

High-speed rail in the Netherlands Overview of the high-speed rail system in the Netherlands

High-speed rail service in the Netherlands started at 13 December 2009 with the dedicated HSL-Zuid line that connects the Randstad via Brussels to the European high-speed rail network. In later years improved traditional rail sections were added to the high-speed network. Proposals for more dedicated high-speed lines were deemed too costly; plans for the HSL-Oost to Germany were mothballed and instead of the Zuiderzeelijn the less ambitious Hanzelijn was built to enable future high-speed service between the northern provinces and the Randstad.

High-speed rail in Poland Overview of the high-speed rail system in Poland

High-speed rail service commenced in Poland on 14 December 2014, with the introduction of 20 non-tilting Pendolino trainsets operating on 4 designated lines radiating out from Warsaw. Polish State Railways started passenger service trains PKP Pendolino operating a speed 200 km/h on 80 km line Olszamowice-Zawiercie. From December 2017 there are two 200 km/h sections, 136 km long in total. Polish state railways PKP launched the high-speed service under the Express Intercity Premium (EIP) brand name.

High-speed rail in France Overview of the high-speed rail system in France

The first French high-speed rail line opened in 1981, between Paris's and Lyon's suburbs. It was at that time the only high-speed rail line in Europe. As of June 2021, the French high-speed rail network comprises 2,800 km of Lignes à grande vitesse (LGV).

Grodzisk Mazowiecki–Zawiercie railway

The Central Rail Line, which was completed on 23 December 1977, could have been the first high speed railway line in Europe. Designed for speeds of up to 250 km/h, the line goes from the city of Zawiercie in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie region of southern Poland, to Grodzisk Mazowiecki in the suburbs of Warsaw. Its length is 224 kilometers, and in the Polish rail system it is officially known as Rail Line Number 4. The line was originally built for rail freight transport, but it now carries InterCity and EuroCity long-distance passenger services, mostly from Wrocław and Opole, Częstochowa, Katowice, Kraków to Warsaw.


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