High-speed rail travel is continuing to flourish in Europe with a direct line between Paris and Berlin slated to launch next year.

French rail operator SNCF said the service could be in operation as soon as December 2023.

"It makes sense because we see that people are accepting longer and longer journeys. There are really people who are willing to spend five hours, six hours, seven hours on a train," SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou told AFP via Euronews.

In this case the Paris to Berlin route would take seven hours, he explained.

Both SNCF and German rail operator Deutsche Bahn offer high-speed train services between Paris and Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Mannheim in Germany but there is currently no direct line to Berlin from the French capital.

Explore Germany for just nine euro with this special summer travel pass

TGV trains at Gare de Lyon Railway Station
The route will operate on SNCF'S TGV high-speed trains ©Jean-Bernard Carillet/Lonely Planet

SNCF's Alain Krakovitch said the demand for high-speed rail travel is showing no signs of slowing down in Europe and pointed to the success of the Paris-Milan and Paris-Barcelona high-speed links as motivation to connect Paris with more European cities.

"The observation we make today is that Paris-Milan and Paris-Barcelona have amazing occupancy rates: on Paris-Milan, the offer has doubled with the arrival of Trenitalia (the Italian high-speed rail company that began operations in France last year), and despite that, the trains are full," Krakovitch explained.

"We should be able to have the same thing on Paris-Berlin."

The Paris-Berlin high-speed service will start with one train between the two capitals daily in December 2023 before a new night-service launches later.

A new sleeper train will connect these European cities in time for summer travel

A Group Of Friends Exploring Berlin
The high-speed service from Paris to Berlin will take seven hours © Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

What's next for European rail travel?

Meanwhile, high-speed rail service, Eurostar, is joining forces with the French-Belgian rail operator Thalys to directly connect London with cities in Germany for the first time.

Furthermore, the EuroNight service from Swedish operator SJ is set to launch this September, giving passengers even more choice across destinations when traveling by rail in Europe.

London's new high-speed railway is open, making it easier and faster to get around the city

It will provide a night service from Sweden's capital Stockholm to Hamburg in Germany with a stop in Copenhagen along the way.

The Hamburg stop is also the missing link in rail travel between the UK and Sweden and will connect London with Stockholm. When it launches, it means that passengers in London will be able to get the Eurostar to Brussels, then a train to Hamburg to join the EuroNight service to Stockholm. If passengers get the 9pm service to Stockholm, they'll arrive in the Swedish capital just in time for breakfast at 10am the next day.

Explore related stories


Where to go in 2024: when to visit our Best in Travel winners

Oct 25, 2023 • 19 min read