Q. When will there be a Deutsche Bahn [German Railways] service in and out of London. Also, when will there be a high-speed rail link from London to Amsterdam?
Brad Allemand, London
A. Those two questions are connected – and, for many travellers keen to visit Europe by rail, the answer to both of them is “not soon enough”. Deutsche Bahn is arguably Europe’s most successful rail operator. Three years ago, it announced plans for what I call a Schunnel service from London St Pancras. The train will go through the Channel Tunnel to Brussels, where it will split: half going north to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and half east to Cologne and Frankfurt. This would bring big benefits by increasing the ease of many rail journeys, and providing competition for Eurostar and the airlines.
However, Deutsche Bahn has gone all quiet about when the link may start. The official announcement, which you can see at at bit.ly/Schunnel, does not mention any specific date. Industry speculation suggests that technical problems have intervened, and that the earliest possible date is 2015 – but don’t hold your breath about that.
Which leaves the incumbent, Eurostar. It has a near-monopoly of London-Paris/Brussels travel, and offers connections from the Belgian capital deeper into Europe – including on the new high-speed line to Amsterdam. Eurostar says it is studying the possibility of serving destinations in the Netherlands and Germany, but again not for a couple of years at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the default way to reach Amsterdam remains by air. Yet if you are not in too much of a hurry, consider the “Dutch Flyer” train and ferry service from London Liverpool Street via Harwich and Hook of Holland to any station in the Netherlands. With an overnight service, including cabin, just £75 one way, this is certainly the most civilised way to travel: see bit.ly/NLtrainship for details.
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