• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

In Europe, a Rail Renaissance is Underway


Jan 4, 2024
In Europe, a Rail Renaissance is Underway


The national railways are also involved.

In September, the German transport minister, Volker Wissing, vowed to free up 40 billion euros, about $43.6 billion, to revitalize the country’s rail network. “The rail infrastructure has been neglected for decades and brought to its absolute limits,” Dr. Wissing said in a statement. “This is no longer acceptable and unworthy of a progressive economic nation. We need the railroads as a climate-friendly mode of transport.”

In Spain, the government has opened up its high-speed rail network to private competition with great success. And the national rail operator, Renfe, recently started direct services between Madrid and the French coastal city of Marseille, and between Barcelona and Lyon, France.

And in France, President Emmanuel Macron promised in 2020 to revitalize the country’s rail network to promote the country’s “ecological transition.” Overnight services have recently restarted between Paris and Nice, Paris and Vienna, and Paris and Aurillac, in the south.

Paris is also now enjoying direct overnight service to and from Berlin, the result of a collaboration between the national railway companies of France, Germany, Belgium and Austria. The French transport minister, Clément Beaune, was among those aboard the inaugural train, which pulled into Paris’s Gare de l’Est on the morning of Dec. 12.

“It was magnificent,” Mr. Beaune told a reporter waiting to greet him on the platform. “It’s a symbol that we need at the moment.”

Paige McClanahan, a frequent contributor to the Travel section, is the author of “The New Tourist: Waking up to the Power and Perils of Travel,” forthcoming from Scribner in June 2024.

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