High-speed rail in Europe

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Operational high-speed lines in Europe
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 1970s, 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 manufacturers designing and building HSR in Europe, with criss-crossed alliances and partnerships, including Alstom, Bombardier (since 2021 owned by Alstom), Hitachi, Siemens, and Talgo.[1]

Early national high-speed rail networks[edit]

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 programs and services were operated by national operators.

Evolution of length of sections of lines designed for trains that can go faster than 250 km/h, via the European Union, Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer[citation needed]
Length of sections of lines designed for trains that can go faster than 250 km/h by country, via the European Union, Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer[citation needed]


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 3,622 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.

Line Operating speed (max) Length Construction began Construction completed or
expected start of revenue services
LGV Sud-Est 270 km/h, then 300 km/h 409 km 1976 1983
LGV Atlantique 300 km/h 279 km 1985 1990
LGV Rhone-Alpes 300 km/h 115 km 1989 1994
LGV Nord 300 km/h 333 km 1989 1996
LGV Interconnexion Est 270 km/h 57 km 1990 1996
LGV Méditerrannée 320 km/h 250 km 1996 2001
LGV Est Européen 320 km/h 406 km 2002 2016
LGV Perpignan-Barcelona 300 km/h 45 km 2004 2012
LGV Rhin-Rhone 320 km/h 138 km 2006 2011
LGV Sud Europe Atlantique 320 km/h 302 km 2012 2017
LGV Bretagne-Pays de la Loire 320 km/h 182 km 2012 2017
LGV Nîmes-Montpellier 220 km/h 80 km 2013 2018
LGV Bordeaux-Toulouse 320 km/h 222 km 2024 2030
LGV Bordeaux-Espagne 320 km/h 251 km Unknown ~ 2032
LGV Montpellier-Perpignan Unknown 150 km 2030 2035
Lyon-Turin 300 km/h 272 km 2007 2030

United Kingdom[edit]

Early developments[edit]

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.

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]

Outline map of the planned HS2 rail line in the UK

Current network and projects[edit]

Trains currently travel at 125 mph (201 km/h) 125 mph on five lines (across at least one section): the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line, parts of the Cross Country Route, and the West Coast Main Line.

New dedicated high-speed lines have an operating speed of more than 250 km/h:

  • 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). It opened on 14 November 2007, on time and under budget.
  • A second line, High Speed 2 (HS2), has been under construction since 2019[10] between London and Birmingham with later extensions to Manchester and Nottingham. It 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]

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.

Line Operating speed (max) Length Construction began Construction completed or
expected start of revenue services
High Speed 1 300 km/h 108 km 1998 2007
High Speed 2 330/360 km/h 530 km 2019 2028–2033
Eurostar high speed trains at St Pancras Station.

In order to carry passengers to destinations beyond the core routes to Paris and Brussels, new Class 374 trains, also referred to as the Eurostar e320, were introduced in November 2015. A Class 374 train has 900 seats, roughly equivalent to six Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s (the aircraft typically used by low-cost airlines).


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.

Line Operating speed (max) Length Construction began Construction completed or

expected start of revenue services

Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway 280 km/h 327 km 1973 1991
Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway 280 km/h 99 km 1976 1991
Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway 250 km/h 258 km 1992 1998
Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line 300 km/h 180 km 1995 2002
Cologne–Aachen high-speed railway 250 km/h 70 km 1997 2002
Nuremberg–Munich high-speed railway 300 km/h 171 km 1998 2006–2013
Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway 300 km/h 121 km 1987 2015
Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway 300 km/h 191 km 1996 2017
Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed railway 200–250 km/h 182 km 1987 1993–2030
Stuttgart–Wendlingen high-speed railway 250 km/h 25 km 2012 2025
Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway 250 km/h 60 km 2012 2022


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]

Line Operating speed (max) Length Construction began Construction completed or

expected start of revenue services

Florence–Rome 250 km/h 254 km 1970 1992
Rome–Naples 300 km/h 205 km 1995 2005
PaduaVenice (Mestre) 220 km/h 25 km 2007
Naples-Salerno 250 km/h 29 km 2008
Milan–Bologna 300 km/h 215 km 2002 2008
Bologna–Florence 300 km/h 79 km 1992 2009
Turin–Milan 300 km/h 125 km 2009
Milan–Brescia 300 km/h 67 km 2012 2016
Brescia-Verona 300 km/h 48 km 2016 2023[14]
Verona-Vicenza 300 km/h 44 km 2021 2027[15][16]
Brenner Base Tunnel 250 km/h 56 km 2006 2032[17]
Turin-Lyon 250 km/h 72 km 2011 2030[18]
Verona-Brenner[19] 250 km/h 180 km 2021 2032
Milano-Genoa[20] 250 km/h 53 km 2011 2023[21]
Naples-Bari 200 km/h 147 km 2016 2027[22]
Florence rail bypass ??? km/h 8 km ??? 2027[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

Frecciarossa 1000 is one of the fastest trains in Europe.[26][27]

With the entering into service of the ETR1000 train-sets, which have a designed top speed of 400 km/h[28] and a designed commercial speed of 360 km/h,[29] the rail network speeds where thought to be upgraded[30] to safely allow trains to run at such speeds. After it entered in service in 2015, the Frecciarossa 1000 underwent several speed tests along the Turin-Milan route, reaching the Italian rail speed record of 393.8 km/h (244.7 mph) on 26 February 2016.[31] On 28 May 2018, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the ANSF announced that no further tests will be carried out, as issues of ballast being suctioned by the train emerged at those speeds, and that the speed limit would be maintained at 300 km/h, which is the speed for which it is currently certified.[29][32][33]

The increasing success of Italy's high-speed rail networks since 2008 has been cited as one of the main reasons that the flag carrier airline Alitalia, which focused on domestic flights, went bankrupt and ceased operations in October 2021 as high-speed train travel became faster, cheaper and more efficient.[34]


High-speed rail network, the longest in Europe.

Early developments[edit]

In 1978, the Spanish manufacturer Talgo registered the world speed record for diesel-powered trains at 230 km/h with a Talgo 4. The same company had reached successive records at 135 km/h in 1942 with a Talgo 1, 200 km/h in 1964 with a Talgo 3, and then reached 500 km/h on a static test bench in 1990 with a Talgo 350 tilting train. Following these technical benchmarks, maximum commercial speeds in the Spanish networks were set at 120 km/h in 1950, 160 km/h in 1986, and 200 km/h in 1989.[35][36]

The AVE service[edit]

The Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) high-speed rail service in Spain has been operating since 1992, when the Madrid–Seville route started running, at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph). Ten other lines have been opened since, including the 621-kilometre long Madrid–Barcelona line. By December 2021 the total length of the ADIF-maintained network was 3,622 kilometres,[3] making it the longest in Europe, and the second longest in the world after mainland China's.

The ambitious AVE construction programme aims to connect 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 programme was slowed down by the financial crisis: the two main lines still under construction, the Mediterranean Corridor and the Madrid–Extremadura line (which would be part of the Madrid-Lisbon link), are yet to be completed.[37]

The Spanish and Portuguese high-speed lines are being built to European standard track gauge (UIC) 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 the LZB train control system, and 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.[38] 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,[39][40] 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.

Current network and projects[edit]

The total length of lines is 3,622 km as of 2021, with long-term plans to expand it up to 7,000 km. 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.[41][42]

Line Design speed Length Construction began Construction completed or
expected start of revenue services
Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line 300 km/h 472 km 1989 1992
L.A.V. Madrid-Toledo 270 km/h 74 km 2003 2005
L.A.V. CórdobaMálaga 300 km/h 155 km 2001 2007
L.A.V. Madrid–Valladolid 350 km/h 179.6 km 2001 2007
Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line 350 km/h 621 km 1995 2008
L.A.V. Madrid–Valencia 350 km/h 391 km 2004 2010[43]
L.A.V. Albacete–Alicante 350 km/h 171.5 km Unknown 2013[43]
L.A.V. BarcelonaFrench border 350 km/h 150.8 km 2004 2013
Atlantic Axis high-speed rail line 250 km/h 155.6 km[44] 2001 2015
L.A.V. Valladolid–León 350 km/h 162.7 km 2009 2015
L.A.V. Valencia–Castellón 350 km/h 74 km Unknown 2018[43]
L.A.V. PalenciaBurgos 350 km/h 134.8 km 2009 2022
L.A.V. SevilleCádiz 250 km/h 157 km 2001 2015[45]
L.A.V. AntequeraGranada 300 km/h 125.7 km 2006 2019
L.A.V. LeónGijón 350 km/h Unknown km 2009 2023
L.A.V. Olmedo–Zamora-Galicia 350 km/h 435 km 2004 2021[46][47][48]
L.A.V. MurciaAlmería 300 km/h 184.3 km Unknown 2025
L.A.V. BurgosVitoria-Gasteiz 350 km/h 98.8 km 2009 2025
Basque Y 250 km/h 175 km 2006 2025
Mediterranean High Speed Corridor:
AndalusiaMurciaValenciaCataloniaFrench border[49]
250–350 km/h +1300 km 2004 2013–2025
Madrid–(Cáceres–Mérida–Badajoz)–Portuguese border[50] 350 km/h 640 km 2008 after 2020
L.A.V. MadridJaén 250–350 km/h Unknown km 2015 Unknown
L.A.V. MadridSantander[51] Unknown km/h Unknown km Unknown 2025
Madrid AtochaMadrid Chamartín 160 km/h 7 km Unknown 2022[52]
A Renfe Class 102 refurbished for Avlo services.

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.[53]

The network eventually opened to operators other than RENFE, and the SNCF-owned low-cost brand Ouigo began to run services in the Madrid-Barcelona route on 10 May 2021.[54] In addition to its high-end service (AVE), RENFE launched a no frills service (Avlo) on 23 June 2021.[55] Likewise, services operated by ILSA [es], a joint venture of Air Nostrum and Trenitalia, are expected to begin operation in late 2022 under the brand name 'Iryo'.[56]

Integration of European High-speed rail network[edit]

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.[57]

Cross-border infrastructure and passenger services[edit]


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 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

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.[58] Den Haag Centraal (The Hague) and Breda are connected to the high-speed line by conventional railway lines.[59] Services on the HSL-Zuid began on 7 September 2009.[60] It is being served by Thalys trains from Amsterdam to Brussels and Paris, Eurostar trains to Brussels and London and domestic Intercity Direct train services.[61]

HSL-Oost was planned, but was put on hiatus. It would connect Amsterdam Centraal via Utrecht Centraal and Arnhem to Germany.[62] 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.

In the north, a new line called Lelylijn is under study between Lelystad and Groningen, with operating speed up to 200 km/h.[63] This line would, along with other measures on the Amsterdam - Copenhagen corridor, allow to reduce the traveling time between these two cities down to 4h 30mn.[64]

Paris to Frankfurt[edit]

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[edit]

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.[65]

London to Paris and Brussels[edit]

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[edit]

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 four times 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[edit]

A 131-kilometre (81.4 mi) section of the Perpignan–Barcelona high-speed rail line across the Spanish-French border opened in January 2013.[66] 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.[67] 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.[68][69] The journey time for the TGV Paris–Barcelona service is now 6h 25min.[70] A 60 kilometer Nîmes–Montpellier bypass is under construction and will chop 20 minutes off travel times from Barcelona to Lyon and beyond.[71] 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[edit]

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, and Austria 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.

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[edit]

Magistrale for Europe[edit]

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.[72]

MoE adds a connection from Vienna to Budapest to Subotica, Novi Sad & Belgrade. The project is planned to be completed by 2020.[needs update] 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.[73] 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.[74][75] 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.

Line Operating speed (max) Length Construction began Service started
Western Railway (Vienna - Attnang-Puchheim) 200/230 km/h (per sections)[76] 243 km Unknown (past) 1990 (Linz - Wels) to 2016 (Ybbs - Amstetten)[76]
New Lower Inn Valley railway (Kundl - Baumkirchen) 220 km/h[76] 40.236 km Unknown (past) 9 December 2012
Marchegger Eastern railway (upgrade Vienna Stadlau - Slovakian border) 200 km/h[76] 38 km[76] Unknown (past) 2022 (expected)[76]
Pottendorfer line (upgrade & new Vienna Inzersdorf Ort - Wr. Neustadt) 200 km/h[76] 47 km[76] Unknown (past) 2023 (expected)[76]
Koralm Railway (Graz - Klagenfurt) 250 km/h[76] 125 km 2001 2025 (expected)[76][77]
Semmering Base Tunnel (Gloggnitz - Mürzzuschlag) 230 km/h[76] 27.3 km 2012 2030 (expected)[78]
Brenner Base Tunnel & its Austrian access (Volders-Baumkirchen - Italian border) 250 km/h[76] 46 km[76] Summer 2006 2032 (expected)[79][80]
North Railway (upgrade Gänserndorf - Břeclav, Czech Republic) 200 km/h[76] 47 km[76] 2024 (expected)[76] 2030 (expected)
Western Railway (new line Köstendorf - Salzburg) 250 km/h 21.3 km 2025/2026 (expected) 2040 (expected)
New Lower Inn Valley railway (Kundl - Brannenburg, Germany) 230 km/h 25 km Unknown (future) Unknown (future)


The French-Swiss co-operation TGV Lyria and German ICE lines extend into Switzerland, but given the dense rail traffic 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.

Line Max speed Operating speed (passenger) Length Construction began Construction completed or
start of revenue services
Mattstetten–Rothrist new line 200 km/h 200 km/h 45 km 1996 2004
Solothurn-Wanzwil new line 200/140 km/h (per section) 200/140 km/h (per section) 12 km 2004
Lötschberg Base Tunnel 250 km/h 200 km/h 35 km 1994 2007
Gotthard Base Tunnel 250/230 km/h (technical/authorized) 200/230 km/h (normal/if delay) 57 km 1999 2016
Ceneri Base Tunnel 250/230 km/h (technical/authorized) 200/230 km/h (normal/if delay) 15 km 2006 2020

Nordic Countries[edit]


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.[81]

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.[82] 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,[83] 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.[84] 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.[85][86] 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.[87][88]

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.[89] 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.[90][91]

Line Operating speed Length Construction began Start of revenue services
Øresund fixed link 200 km/h 7 km 1995 2000
Copenhagen–Ringsted Line[92] 250 km/h (currently 180 km/h) 60 km 2011 June 2019 at 180 km/h;[93] upgrade to 250 km/h expected in 2023
RingstedFehmarn (part of Vogelfluglinie)[94] 200 km/h 115 km 2013 Expected 2028[95]


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.[96] 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.[97] 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.[98][99] 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.

Line Speed Length Construction began Expected start of revenue services
ELSA-rata (Espoo-Salo Railway) 300 km/h 95 km Planned 2031


A 49 km (30 mi) 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.[100] As of 2019, construction was to begin in 2022.[101]

Line Speed Length Construction began Expected start of revenue services
Reykjavik Airport Rail Link 250 km/h 49 km Planned (construction 2022 as of 2019)[102] 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

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).[103] 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.[104]

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.[105]

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.

Line Speed Length Construction began Expected start of revenue services
Drammen – Tønsberg 200–250 km/h ≈63 km 1993 2012–≈2025
Eidsvoll – Hamar 200–250 km/h ≈60 km 2012 2015–≈2025
Oslo – Ski 250 km/h 22.5 km 2020 2022

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


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.[106][107]

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.[108] 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.[109] 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.[110] 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

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.[116] 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.[117]

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.

Line Speed Length Construction began Expected start of revenue services
AnkaraSivas 250 km/h 446 km 2009 2022
BandırmaBursaOsmaneli 200 km/h 201 km 2012 2023
Ankaraİzmir 250 km/h 654 km 2012 2022 (Ankara to Afyonkarahisar) 2023 (İzmir)
KaramanUlukışla 200 km/h 135 km 2016 2023
MersinAdanaGaziantep 200 km/h 311 km 2020 2023
İstanbulKapıkule (Bulgarian border) 200 km/h 229 km 2019 2023
YerköyKayseri 200 km/h 142 km 2022 2026


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. The Athens-Thessaloniki section has been finished, allowing a travel time of 3 hours 20 minutes, a reduction of three hours.

Line Speed Length Construction began Expected start of revenue services
PatrasAthensThessaloniki – borders with Republic of North Macedonia & Bulgaria 160 – 200 km/h approx. 700 km 1994 2022 (parts already in operation)

Hungary and Romania[edit]

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.[118] Works are planned to be carried out between 2017 and 2025.[118]

Hungary and Serbia[edit]

As a result of negotiations between the two European countries and China, it was decided 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, by upgrading the current Budapest–Belgrade railway line to 200 km/h (120 mph) in Serbia and to 160 km/h (99 mph) in Hungary.[119][120]

The construction of the railway line in Serbia started in September 2017, when the construction of the Čortanovci tunnel began.[121] The 75 km railway for speed up to 200 km/h between Belgrade and Novi Sad opened on 19 March 2022 (this part was divided in two sections: as of 2018, the Belgrade - Stara Pazova 34.5 km section was planned to be finished in the end of 2020 and the Stara Pazova - Novi Sad 40.4 km section in November 2021).[122][123][124][125] The construction of the 107.4 km section between Novi Sad and Subotica (Hungarian border) was started on 7 April 2022 and is due to be completed for the end of 2024.[126]

The construction of the Hungarian part of the railway, 152 km, was started in October 2021 and is due to be completed by 2025.[127][119] When the project is complete, the journey between Budapest and Belgrade should be reduced to 2h 40mn according to some sources and to 3h 30mn according to some others.[122][120]


After the realisation of a high speed line between Belgrade and Novi Sad, additional high speed connections within Serbia are planed as well as the modernisation of branch lines which will connect the main high speed line Subotica-Niš with neighbouring countries like North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Line[128] Speed Length Expected start of revenue services
Belgrade - Novi Sad 200 km/h 75 km 19.03.2022 [129]
Novi sad - Subotica 200 km/h 108.3 km Under construction - end of 2024 [130]
Belgrade - Niš 200 km/h 230 km Under construction - early 2026 [131]
Subotica - Horgoš 160 km/h 26.6 km Under construction - November 2022 [132]
Niš - Dimitrovgrad 160 km/h 80 km by 2025 [133]
Niš - Preševo 160 km/h 88 km Early 2026 [134]

Other high-speed projects[edit]

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.[135]

The Baltics[edit]

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.[136]

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.[137]


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.[138][139]

Czech Republic[edit]

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).[140] 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.[141]

The Czech Ministry of Transportation is planning a high-speed rail network which will be roughly 660 km long.[142] Several studies of a possible network have been completed, but there have not yet been any concrete proposals.[143] 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[144]

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.[145]


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,[146] which could cost around €15 billion.[147]


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.[148] 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.[149] The feasibility study project has been granted €80 million in subsidy from European Union.[150] 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.[151]

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.[152]

Animated GIF of highspeed trains plan from 2020 to 2034 [153]


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.[154] 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, bringing the two countries' capital cities within three hours of each other, at a max speed of 350 km/h.[155]

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,[156] the project however, was cancelled in March 2012.[154] In October 2020 the government proposed a 75-minute rail link between the country's two main cities, Lisbon and Porto.[157] 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.[158]

Line[50] Speed Length Expected start of revenue services
LisbonSpanish border (to Madrid) 350 km/h 640 km project cancelled[154]
Lisbon–Porto high-speed rail line 300 km/h 292 km early project cancelled[154] and repurposed in 2020[157]
PortoSpanish border (to Vigo) 250 km/h 125 km project cancelled[154] 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.[159]

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.[160] 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.[161][162] 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.[163] 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]

Line Speed Length Expected start of revenue services
Moscow–Kazan[citation needed] 400 km/h 770 km (301 km initial section) 2020 (postponed after crisis)

In development[edit]

Cross border[edit]

Countries Line Speed (km/h) Length (km) Construction began Expected start of revenue services
Austria/Italy Brenner Base Tunnel 250 56 2006 2032
Finland/Russia/Norway Arctic Railway 250 526 2025+ 2030+
Germany/Switzerland Karlsruhe–Basel high-speed railway 250 182 1987 1993–2030
Germany/Czech Republic Praha–Dresden railway [de] 200–320 70+ 2025 2030–2035
Germany/Denmark Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link 200 18 2021 2029
Sweden/Denmark HH Tunnel 200 60 Unknown 2040 (guess)
Portugal/Spain Lisbon–Madrid high-speed rail line[50] 350 640 cancelled[154]
Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania Rail Baltica 250 870 2018 2023–2026
Estonia/Finland Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel undecided 103 2025 (estimate) 2040 (guess)
United Kingdom/Ireland Celtic Crossing 250 41 km[164] to 110 km [165] 2025+ (insisted) 2030+
Portugal/Spain Porto–Vigo high-speed rail line[50] 250 125 cancelled[154]


Country Line Speed (km/h) Length (km) Construction began Expected start of revenue services
Austria Koralm Railway 250 125 2001 2022
Austria North Railway 200 77.9 Unknown 2030 (upgrading)
Austria New Lower Inn Valley railway (extension) 250 90 unknown 2030
Belgium Line 25N 200 20 2012 2020–2027
Belgium Line 50A 200 28.8 2018 Unknown (upgrading)
Belgium Line 96N 200 13.6 1997 Unknown (upgrading)
Czech Republic Prague–České Budějovice 200 166 2020 2023–2026
Czech Republic Praha–Poříčany 200 25.92 2020 2023
Czech Republic Brno–Přerov 200 90.1 2021 2025
Czech Republic Ejpovický tunel 160 (200 planned) 4.15 2018 2022
Czech Republic Praha–Plzeň 160 (200 planned) 102.85 2016 (upgrading) 2026
Czech Republic Praha-Brno-Ostrava 350 350 2027 2035
Czech Republic Praha-Beroun 300 24.7 2028 2038
Czech Republic Brno–Breclav 350 50 2027 2035
Czech Republic Hradec Králové–Polish Border 350 50 2040 2045
Denmark Ringsted-Fehmarn Line 250 115 2019 2028
Denmark Ringsted-Odense Line 250 96 2010 2026+
Denmark Randers–Aalborg line 250 80.7 unknown 2028+
Denmark Aarhus–Randers line 250 59.2 unknown 2028+
Denmark Esbjerg-Lunderskov-Flensburg 250 135.9 unknown 2030
Denmark Middelfart-Odense new line 250 145 2022 2028+
Germany Rhine Railway Karlsruhe-Rastatt 250 30 Unknown 2024
Germany Rhine Railway Offenburg-Basel 250 120 Unknown 2030
Germany Kinzig Valley Railway (Hesse) 200 80.6 2007 2021 (upgrading)
Germany Appenweier–Strasbourg railway 200 13.5 2010 2023 (upgrading)
Germany Frankfurt-Manheim 300 85 2025 2030
Germany Oberhausen–Arnhem railway 200 73 2014 unknown (upgrading)
Germany Stuttgart–Wendlingen high-speed railway 250 25 Unknown 2025
Germany Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway 250 59.58 Unknown 2022
Germany Ulm-Augsburg high-speed railway (parallel) 250 70 2023 2030
Germany Hanau-Gelnhausen high-speed railway 300 55 2025 2030
Germany Lübeck–Puttgarden railway 200 88.6 2020 2028 (upgrading)
Germany Lübeck–Hamburg railway 200 62.5 2020 2027 (upgrading)
Germany Berlin–Frankfurt-Am-Oder 200 81.2 Unknown 2027 (upgrading)
Germany Bielefeld–Hannover high-speed railway 300 100 unknown 2030
Germany Uelzen–Langwedel railway 200 97.4 unknown 2030
Germany Regensburg–Passau railway 200 57.3 2006 2030
Germany Berlin–Görlitz railway 200 114.7 2023 2027
Germany Wunstorf–Bremen railway 200 122.3 unknown 2030 (upgrading approved)
Germany Stendal–Uelzen railway 200 107.5 unknown 2030
Greece Egnatia Railway 250 565 unknown 2028+
Greece route to Albania 250 130 unknown unknown
Hungary Serbian Border-Budapest 200 152 2019 2023
Italy Verona–Brenner[19] 250 276 Unknown 2025
Italy Tortona–Genoa high-speed railway[19] 250 53 2013 2023
Italy Naples–Foggia railway 200 194 2012 2026 (upgrading)
Netherlands Rhine Railway 200 116.3 Unknown 2023
Netherlands Lelylijn 250 120 Unknown before 2030
Norway Drammen–Tønsberg 200 63 Unknown 2025
Norway Dovre Line 250–300 110 2012 2025
Norway Oslo–Ski 250 22.5 Unknown 2022
Norway Østfoldbanen 250 77 2019 2024–2030
Norway Ringerike Line 250 40 2021 2028–2029
Norway Vestfold Line 250 64 1993 2024–2032
Poland Y-line 250 450 2021 (claimed) 2027-2030+
Poland CMK Północ / PKP rail line 5 250 295 2025+ 2030+
Poland Shortcut in PKP rail line 9 250 33 2020+ 2025+
Portugal Linha do Sul (another section) 220 50 2015 2030
Portugal South Axis 250 374.7 2015 2030
Portugal High-speed mainline 300 298 unknown 2030
Russia Gor'kovskaya Railway 200 421 2021 2024
Russia HSR Moscow-Saint-Petersburg 400 679 1997 2024
Russia HSR Moscow-Kazan 400 720 unknown 2030
Russia HSR Moscow-Adler 400 1,550 2025 2035
Russia HSR Ural 300 218 2021 2027
Spain Mediterranean High Speed Corridor: AndalusiaMurciaValenciaCatalonia–French border[49] 250–350 +1,000 2016–2020–2030
Spain Madrid–(CáceresMéridaBadajoz)–Lisbon[50] 350 640 Unknown
Spain L.A.V. MadridSantander[51] Unknown Unknown Unknown
Spain León–Gijón high-speed rail line 350 Unknown 2009 2020+
Spain Murcia–Almería high-speed rail line 300 184.3 Unknown 2023
Spain L.A.V. Burgos–Vitoria-Gasteiz 350 98.8 2009 2023
Spain Basque Y 250 175 Unknown 2023
Slovakia Devínska Nová Ves-Czech border 200 57.8 2017 2030
Switzerland Jura Foot Railway 200 104.5 unknown (upgrading) 2025–2030
Switzerland Lausanne–Geneva railway 200 66.18 unknown (upgrading) 2025–2030
Switzerland Simplon Railway 200 191.41 unknown (upgrading) 2025–2030
United Kingdom High Speed 2 362 230 2017 2031
United Kingdom High Speed 2 (phase 2) 362 390 2022 (planned) 2040
United Kingdom Northern Powerhouse Rail 230 65 2022 (planned) 2035+
United Kingdom Reading–Taunton line 201 173.21 Unknown (proposed) Before 2043
United Kingdom Bristol–Exeter line 201 121.36 Unknown (proposed) Before 2043
United Kingdom South West Main Line 201 239.8 Unknown (proposed) Before 2043
United Kingdom Coventry–Nuneaton-Leicester lines 201 40 Unknown (proposed) Before 2036
United Kingdom Crewe–Derby line 201 83 Unknown (proposed) Before 2036
United Kingdom Waverley Route Unknown 158.1 Unknown (proposed) Before 2035[166]
United Kingdom Welsh Marches line 201 225 Unknown (proposed) Before 2036
Romania Bucharest-Cluj 200 497 2020 (originally planned 2019) 2025
Iceland Airport Rail Link 250 49 2022 (planned)[167] 2025
Finland Helsinki–Turku high-speed railway 300 95 (planned) 2031
Finland East Rail Connection 300 126 (planned) 2027+
Sweden North Bothnia Line 250 270 2016 2028
Sweden Götalandsbanan 320 440 2017 (delayed) 2024–2030
Sweden East Link Project 250 160 2017 (delayed) 2033–2036
Sweden Örebro–Kolbäck 200 63 unknown 2036
Ukraine Polish border-Lviv-Kiev-Odessa 250 900 2021 (claimed) 2030
Ireland Dublin-Cork Railway 225 266 early 2000s 2023+
France LGV Bordeaux–Toulouse 350 222 2019 (planned) 2032
France LGV Bordeaux–Espagne (Dax to border) 350 60 Unknown 2034
France LGV Montpellier–Perpignan 350 150 2021 (planned) 2027+
France Ligne nouvelle Paris-Normandie 250 310 2027 (Approved) 2035+

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