Lonely Planet Writer

Europe's high-speed train revolution continues

December is a red letter month for train travellers in Europe.

First up, December 13: the first date of operation for the speeded-up Paris and Brussels to Amsterdam Thalys service. This train was already pretty zippy, but with the completion of the 78 mile Hogesnelheidslijn Zuid (High-speed Line South) in the Netherlands, journey times have been further slashed.

Amsterdam Central: closer

Brussels is now seven minutes under two hours from the Dutch capital. Paris is a shade over three. Intriguingly for city-hoppers, London is now four hours ten minutes from Amsterdam by rail, using Eurostar and Thalys trains, changing in Brussels.

Higher speeds coming to Italian railways

The following day, Italy’s Red Arrow service opens for newly souped-up business. This train, which sounds much better in Italian as ‘Freccia Rossa’, will whizz between Rome and Milan in an improved journey time of two hours and forty-five minutes. That’s no slouch considering the journey is 389 miles. This saucepot of a train service also trumps the air corridor between the two cities, Europe's second busiest, by an hour or more. Look for some smart fares as Trenitalia, the Italian state railway look to steal a march on privately-owned trains which will compete with the Red Arrow from 2011.

This adds to Europe's enviable set of high-speed rail links. Are there any journeys you'd like to see speeded up?

OK, I promise, no more trains for a while after December 13. Except for a report, hopefully, on the new Thalys line later in December.

Tom Hall