News: New trains for Baltic

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The Independent Travel

Next summer, travellers to the Baltic will be able to explore in comfort from land - thanks to a new high-quality rail service.

Next summer, travellers to the Baltic will be able to explore in comfort from land - thanks to a new high-quality rail service.

Spanish-built Talgo trains are to be introduced on the line between Berlin and St Petersburg. These are much more comfortable than the existing rolling stock, and will run on a route that is designed to appeal to tourists.

The first major stop after leaving the German capital is the curious Russian outpost of Kaliningrad (formerly the Prussian city of Königsburg). The train serves the three "Baltic capitals" - Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn - before arriving in St Petersburg. Unlike the usual route, it avoids the bureaucratic hassles of transitting Belarus.

Trains are due to start running on the line on 26 May next year, and Russia's railway network will become more foreigner-friendly with the addition of new border transit points between Russia and Finland to alleviate the pressure on the main line. It appears that Russian Railways is about the only national enterprise in the world's largest country that recognises the potential value of tourism, and is steadily adding services specifically for Western travellers.

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