Early last year we reported on the European Commission action plan to boost cross border rail travel. As part of this action plan, they agreed to identify and support 10 pilot projects to establish new rail services or improve existing ones. Together, they will improve cross-border rail connections across the EU, making them faster, more frequent and more affordable. While most may not start this year, most of them should be in operation during the next few years. The list of the 10 pilot projects was published at the end of January this year – for further details you can find them at:- https://transport.ec.europa.eu/news/connecting-europe-train-10-eu-pilot-services-boost-cross-border-rail-2023-01-31_en Rail passengers from the UK will be pleased to find several new connections between Germany, Denmark
EUROPEAN PASSENGER FEDERATION(EPF) 20th ANNIVERSARY EVENT On January 13th the European Passengers’ Federation (of which ERC(UK) is an associate member) marked its 20th birthday with a special event at the European Parliament in Brussels. ERC(UK) and the German association PROBAHN helped sponsor the event, and two of our members attended along with 35 other colleagues from Continental public transport users’ associations, lobbyists and decision-makers. The event was hosted by Irish MEP Ciaran Cuffe and speakers included representatives of the Community of European Railways, ALLRAIL plus train campaigner and blogger Jon Worth. Topics covered in the presentations and discussion embraced cross-border services and passenger rights. For a full report see: http://www.epf.eu/wp/epf-celebrates-turning-20/ TO EUROPE BY RAIL/SEA/RAIL One of the few convenient links to Europe
Some of you may have come across the Euronews website. In case you missed this, they recently published a bulletin listing lots of news about new and improved services which will be running across many European countries this year. As well as lots of information, there are also some useful links to Traveller blogs- for example – 14 days around Italy and a rail trip across 9 different countries. There is even one by a seasoned rail campaigner who during 2 months last summer took 150 trains across 28 different countries in the European Economic area. See: https://www.euronews.com/travel/2022/12/28/flight-free-travel-europes-new-long-distance-train-routes-for-2022 And see also: https://www.euronews.com/travel/2022/07/22/meet-the-man-battling-to-fix-europe-s-trains-via-an-epic-40-day-journey
Before the Channel Tunnel opened in 1995, you could always buy a paper train ticket from most UK stations to most destinations all over Europe. Since the start of Eurostar services from London, it has become harder to buy a through ticket to many destinations beyond France, Belgium & The Netherlands. An easy connection at Brussels onto Germany is complicated by the fact that a Deutsche Bahn ticket for Germany is not valid on a Thalys (now part of Eurostar) service to Cologne. Thanks to rail campaigners all over Europe there is finally some hope on the horizon. Back in October, a formal agreement was announced by all main train operators across Europe that they will adapt their ticketing systems
Kent must no longer be cut off from the High Speed European Rail Network. As Eurostar is now running a very busy full service from London St Pancras, it is now high time they re-opened Ashford International, which has regular interval local train connections to most parts of Kent. Opening up Ashford will help to relieve the pressure on the terminal at St Pancras, which has been struggling to deal with the large number of passengers having to go through the extra Post-Brexit border controls.
Thanks to investment in the High-Speed Network, for several years it has been possible to take daytime trains from London to many parts of Northern and Eastern Spain. This is not quite so easy for those living further away from London or not wanting a long daytime journey with one or more changes along the way. However, there are many places along the way which could make a very pleasant stop-over to break up the journey. Have a look at this link for some interesting ideas :- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGR3ipqyjes&list=PL8w-BAm7lVzfnTCJauwicMo0-eeYPkE0h
Seasoned rail campaigner Jon Worth will be taking to the rails on June 14th on a 40 day journey where he aims to discover how easy or difficult it might be to travel by train from one EU country to another. He will be crossing every border within the EU , Switzerland and Norway travelling by train and bicycle in areas where there should be a proper rail connection. In each country he will be meeting with activists and politicians to encourage decision-makers to take action to restore these missing links. The campaign is called CrossBorderRail and to find out more you should visit https://crossborderrail.trainsforeurope.eu/
Many European Train Operators have recently announced free train travel for all Ukrainians seeking asylum in The EU. We therefore call on the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh & Northern Ireland Assemblies and Eurostar to do the same until further notice for all Ukrainians seeking asylum in the UK.
While the UK cuts airport departure taxes and increases rail fares the French Government announces a new sustainable aviation fuel surcharge to be added to the cost of flights departing from France from this month. Last December The European Commission announced it’s long awaited action plan to improve long distance cross-border train services. See: Action Plan to boost passenger rail (europa.eu)
This was the title of the headline letter we had published in The New European on the 12th August which you can read in full below : – We were very pleased to read Tom Chesshyre’s feature in TNE 254. This provided a critical evaluation of the measures the EU is taking to encourage greater use of the European Rail Network as a low carbon alternative to air travel. It is now quite clear that we face a climate emergency, as evidenced by the sheer number of “record-breaking” fires & floods all over the world. As part of the EU New Green Deal there now seems to be a clear political and financial commitment to improve cross-border long-distance day and