High-speed rail in Europe

High-speed rail in Europe

High-speed rail is emerging in Europe as an increasingly popular and efficient means of transportation. The first high-speed rail lines in Europe, built in the 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. Rail 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 rail operators, Railteam, emerged to coordinate 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 rail lines receive EU funding. Today only the core countries of Western Europe are 'plugged in' to a cross-border high-speed rail network. This will change rapidly in the coming years as Europe invests heavily in tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure and development projects across the continent.

Integration of European High-speed rail network

The Trans-European high-speed rail network is one of the European Union's three Trans-European transport networks, along with road and waterways. 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.


Europe was introduced to high speed rail when the LGV Sud-Est from Paris to Lyon opened in 1981. Since then, France has continued to build an extensive network, with lines extending in every direction from Paris. France has the most developed high-speed network in Europe. The TGV network started in 1981 with the opening of the line between Lyon and Paris (LGV Sud-Est).

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 central location of France in Western 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 are the high-speed lines in Germany, which are built to existing German train line 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 may 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 interoperability considerations.

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 25kV.

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. Thalys high-speed international trains service the Paris to Brussels corridor, which is now covered in 1h20. Additional Thalys services extend to Amsterdam and Cologne in addition to Belgian cities.


Belgium's rail network is served by four types of high-speed trains: Thalys, Eurostar, ICE and TGV trains. All of them stop in Brussels South station, Belgium's largest train station. Thalys trains operate between Belgium, Germany (Köln), The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and France (Paris). Thalys trains are a variant of the French TGV. Since 2007 Eurostar connects Brussels to London St Pancras. Before that date trains connected to London Waterloo. The German ICE operates between Brussels, Liège and Frankfurt Hbf.

The HSL 1 is a Belgian high speed rail 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 impacted 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. When its extension to the German border is completed (the HSL 3), the combined eastward high speed line will greatly accelerate journeys between Brussels, Paris and Germany. HSL 2 is currently used by Thalys and ICE trains as well as fast internal InterCity services.

The HSL 3 is a Belgian high-speed rail line currently under construction which will connect Liège to the German border. 56 km long (42 km dedicated high-speed tracks, 14 km modernised lines), it is scheduled for completion on 15 December 2007, but trains will not start to use it until 2009. HSL 3 will be 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 rail line currently under construction which will connect Brussels to the Dutch border. 87 km long (40 km dedicated high speed tracks, 57 km modernised lines), it is scheduled for completion by 2007. HSL 4 will be used by Thalys trains as well as fast internal InterCity and NS Hispeed 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 nearing 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 trips would be under 4 hours, the length generally considered competitive with air travel.


HSL-Zuid ( _nl. Hogesnelheidslijn Zuid, _en. Southern High-Speed Line), is a 125-km long high-speed railway line under construction between the Netherlands and Belgium (with HSL 4). Originally scheduled for completion in 2007, it is now expected to open in October 2008 [http://www.hslzuid.nl/hsl/uk/Images/Progress%20Report%2021_tcm112-151331.pdf] . It will be served by newly renovated Thalys trains from Amsterdam to Paris and Brussels.

The line will also be used by domestic trains exclusively operated by NS Hispeed, a subsidiary of Nederlandse Spoorwegen and KLM; these so-called shuttle trains, operating over a combination of new and currently existing rail, will connect The Hague and Breda, with ongoing service to Antwerp and Brussels. However, these trains have not yet been delivered by Ansaldobreda, which along with ERTMS issues is delaying the opening of the line.


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, which has almost 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, and is certified for 330 km/h (205 mph) in regular service.

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 while ICE trains operate the Paris to Frankfurt route via Saarbrucken.


The Austrian Western Railway is being upgraded. The new sections have a continuous maximum design speed of 250km/h. Due to technical restrictions, the German ICE trains currently running on the line travel with speeds of up to 200km/h. Austrian locomotive-hauled trains operating at 200km/h (called Railjet) will be launched in 2008. ÖBB is planning to increase the operational speed to 230 km/h some time after 2013.cite web
url = http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung.php?schluessel=OTS_20080227_OTS0158
title = ÖBB dementieren Meldungen über Verschiebung des Westbahn-Ausbaues
publisher = Austria Presse Agentur
] [cite news | title=Railjet to take off next year | url =http://www.railwaygazette.com/features_view/article/2007/11/7886/railjet_to_take_off_next_year.html | work=Railway Gazette International | date = 2007-11-19 | author=Dr Stefan Wehinger]

The 56 km (34 mile) Brenner Base Tunnel currently under construction will allow speeds of up to 250 km/h. [cite news
title = Durchbruch am Brenner
url = http://www.sueddeutsche.de/automobil/artikel/268/123098/
work = Sueddeutsche Zeitung
date = 2007-07-12
language = German
] [cite news
first = Julius
last = Müller-Meiningen
title = Monumentales Superloch
url = http://www.sueddeutsche.de/automobil/artikel/268/123098/
work = Sueddeutsche Zeitung
date = 2008-04-30
language = German
] The "Unterinntalbahn", the line connecting the Brenner Base Tunnel to Southern Germany, is also being upgraded from two tracks to four tracks and maximum design speeds of 250 km/h.

The "Koralmbahn", the first entirely new railway line in the Second Austrian Republic is under construction since 2006. It includes a new 33 km tunnel ("Koralmtunnel") connecting the cities of Klagenfurt and Graz. Primarily built for intermodal freight transport, it will also be used by passenger trains travelling up to 250 km/h. The travel time from Klagenfurt to Graz will be reduced from three hours to one hour.


The Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) high-speed rail system in Spain is currently under construction. High-speed trains have been running on the Madrid–Sevilla route since 1992. Should the aims of the ambitious AVE construction program be met, by 2020 Spain will have 7000 km (4300 mi) of high-speed trains linking almost all provincial cities to Madrid in under 3 hours and Barcelona within 4 hours. The Spanish and Portuguese high speed lines are being built to French TGV gauge, signalling and electrification standards. 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. The introduction of Talgo technology allows trainsets to change their gauge at special gauge-changing installations.

The first AVE line to link up with the French standard gauge network will be the LGV Perpignan-Figueres, which will include a new tunnel under the Pyrenees. This line, along with the AVE lines from Figueres to Barcelona and Madrid, should be operational by 2009. Upon completion, trains will be able to operate between the French and Spanish capitals without break of gauge for the first time. Other links, including one at Irun/Hendaye are also planned.

Three corporations have built or will build trains for the Spanish high-speed rail network: Spanish Talgo, French Alstom and German Siemens AG. Bombardier Transportation is a partner in both the Talgo-led and the Siemens-led consortium. Because France has yet to electrify its rail lines at the TGV voltage of 25kV all the way to the Spanish border, initial connections between the two countries will require special train sets.


High speed connections between Spain and Portugal have been agreed upon and planned, but initial works have yet to begin. The Portuguese government has approved the construction of three high-speed lines from the capital Lisbon to Porto , from Porto to Vigo and from Lisbon to Madrid, Spain, bringing the countries' capital cities within three hours of each other. Since the late 1990s, the Italian tilting train, the Pendolino runs the Alfa Pendular service, connecting Portugal's mainland from the north border to the Algarve (southern counterpart) at a speed of up to 220 km/h (135 mph).

Italy and Switzerland

The earliest high-speed train deployed in Europe was the Italian "Direttissima" that connected Rome with Florence (254 km/158 mi) in 1978. Italy pioneered the use of the "Pendolino" tilting train technology. 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 plans to be the first open access high speed rail operator in Europe, by 2011, using AGV multiple units.

Crossing the Alps

Switzerland has no high-speed trains of its own yet. French TGV and German ICE lines extend into Switzerland, but given the dense rail traffic, short distances between Swiss cities and the often difficult terrain, they currently do not attain speeds higher than 160 km/h there. The fastest Swiss trains are the ICN tilting trains, operated by the Swiss Federal Railways since May 2000. 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 Cisalpino consortium owned by the Swiss Federal Railways and Trenitalia uses Pendolino tilting trains on two of its international lines.

International links between Italy and France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia are underway. These links all incorporate extensive new tunneling under the Alps. European Union funding has already been approved for the Lyon Turin Ferroviaire, which will connect the TGV and TAV networks, and for a link with Slovenia. In Slovenia, Pendolino-based trainsets are operated by Slovenian Railways as the InterCitySlovenija. Trains connect the capital Ljubljana with Maribor and also with Koper in summer months. One unit operated as EC Casanova on the line Ljubljana-Venice, but this service was discontinued in April, 2008.

In order to address transalpine freight and passenger bottlenecks on its roads and railways, Switzerland launched the Rail2000 and AlpTransit projects. The first stage of the Rail2000 project finished in 2005, included a new high-speed rail track between Bern and Olten with an operating speed of 200 km/h. AlpTransit project is building faster north-south rail tracks across the Swiss Alps by constructing base tunnels several hundred metres below the level of the current tunnels. The 35 km Lötschberg Base Tunnel has opened in 2007 where New Pendolino trains will run at 250 km/h. The 57 km Gotthard Base Tunnel (Top speed 250 km/h) is scheduled for opening in 2015. The second stage of Rail2000 includes line upgrades in canton Valais (200 km/h) and betweend Biel and Solothurn (200 km/h). Start of work is planned for 2012-2016.

The Brenner Base Tunnel through Austria is also proposed.


The countries of Scandinavia have yet to build any longer intercity dedicated high speed lines. Sweden is likely to be the first, but there is no final decision about it yet. A shorter intercity high-speed line exists in Finland since 2006.


Large-scale bridge projects in Denmark have made fast rail links between Scandinavia and Germany a real possibility. The completed Great Belt Fixed Link and Oresund Bridge have made possible overland transportation between Germany and Sweden. A Fehmarn Belt bridge has been approved, and upon completion in 2018, will reduce rail travel between Hamburg and Copenhagen to 3.5 hours.

The main lines in Denmark allow 180 km/h at many places, for example most of the route Copenhagen-Århus ( [http://www.bane.dk/visArtikel.asp?artikelID=570 map] ). Some parts will be upgraded to 200 km/h. Currently the fastest trains reach 180 km/h. A new train, the IC4 diesel train, can reach 200 km/h and has during 2007 been put into test operation with passengers in western Denmark. This project is delayed and it remains to be seen when they will run long-distance full-scale operation. During the winter 2007/2008 the German railways has started service with the ICE-TD in Denmark, which are diesel trains capable of 200 km/h, but they run at maximum 180 km/h for now in Denmark.

It is not likely that any train will run above 200 km/h in Denmark for many years. Denmark is a small country having about 300 km between its two biggest cities Copenhagen and Aarhus. 200 km/h is enough to compete with air travel here. The railway line towards the future Fehmarn Belt bridge will be upgraded to 180 or 200 km/h around year 2018, not faster than that.

The signalling system is unique for Denmark, and has a lot of worn components, which must be replaced. Denmark has decided to replace the signalling system with a new one, the ERTMS, to be finished before 2020. That is a requirement for higher speed than 200 km/h.

Denmark uses diesel trains for long-distance passenger trains and they plan to continue with that, even though the problems with the custom-built IC4 might encourage electric trains. There is no electric overhead supply in Jutland north of Fredericia.


Sweden today runs many trains at 200 km/h, including the X2 tilting trains, widebody and double-decker regional trains, and the Arlanda Airport Express X3. Since both the X2 and X3 are allowed to run at 205 in case of delay, they can technically be considered as high-speed trains. The X2 runs between many cities in Sweden including Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö. The Arlanda Express trains connect Stockholm and Stockholm-Arlanda Airport.

Parts of the network can be relatively easily upgraded to 250 km/h. This requires new signalling system, catenary, removal of level crossings and new trains. There are plans to upgrade specific railways to allow this speed. They have been delayed to after 2015. The Botniabanan will be ready for 250 km/h trains in 2010, but no such trains will run there for the first several years, partly because the manufacturers have no experience of this in such cold climate. A research project ("Gröna tåget") aims to get experience of it, to make such trains available before 2015.

There are plans for a long completely new high-speed railway for 300-320 km/h, Stockholm-Linköping-Jönköping-Borås-Gothenburg, since the existing railways are relatively congested. An informal date suggestion by the Banverket is operation by year 2030, and parts before 2025.


Currently, the only high speed train service is the Flytoget, commuting on a dedicated high-speed line between the Oslo Airport and the metropolitan areas of Oslo, operating at speeds of up to 210 km/h (130 mph). [cite web |url=http://www.flytoget.no/eng/About-Flytoget |title=About Flytoget |author=Airport Express Train |accessdate=2008-05-28]

Some more new high-speed line are planned to be built in the Oslo region, during the 2010 and 2020 decades.

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 (155 mph). This is still at the feasibility planning stages. [cite web |url=http://www.jernbaneverket.no/english/article.jhtml?articleID=1590400 |title=Highspeed -lines: Further steps should be taken |author=Norwegian National Rail Administration |date=2008-05-13]


In Finland VR operates tilting Pendolino trains made by Alstom, reaching 220 km/h in regular operation between Helsinki and Lahti on a route spanning some 50 kilometers. This railway was opened in 2006. The trains stay at 200 km/h on a longer route between Helsinki and Tampere. Other parts of the Finnish railway network are limited to lower speed. The Pendolino network touches on several major cities. A service is currently planned between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, Russia, utilizing Pendolinos, and is due to open in 2010. [cite web |url=http://www.vrgroup.fi/vakiolinkit/VRinforms/news_110.html |title=Karelian Trains orders high-speed trains for Helsinki-St Petersburg route | author=VR Group |date=2007-09-06]

Finland uses its 1524 mm gauge, not standard gauge since they want to use the same trains for both high-speed railways and old enhanced railways. The only trans-border railway to Sweden at Tornio is not planned for border crossing passenger trains.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom's first dedicated high-speed line, High Speed 1 between London and the Channel Tunnel, opened 14 November 2007. There are no other high speed lines planned, however. Most proposals have been dubbed High Speed 2. Unlike other countries, the strongest reasons for new high speed lines are to relieve congestion on the existing network.

The Eurostar trains, which run through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and both France and Belgium, are substantially different versions of the TGV trains, with support for two voltages, both pantograph and third-rail power collection, the ability to adapt to multiple platform heights, and to cope with no fewer than seven different signalling modes. Like the TGVs, Eurostar trains are articulated with bogies between the carriages, and most units have 18 carriages. A fully loaded train of 750 passengers is roughly equivalent to five Boeing 737s (the aircraft typically used by low-cost airlines). These trains operate at the highest scheduled speeds of any in the UK, using a high-speed line between the Channel Tunnel and St Pancras station in London (High Speed 1) which was fully opened in November 2007.

The remainder of Britain's railway network is considerably slower. Most inter-city traffic is restricted to a maximum speed of 200 km/h (125 mph) using routes largely established in the middle years of the nineteenth century. The main reason for this restriction is that, unlike several countries on the continent, Britain has never invested in building specialised lines for intercity services, which therefore have to share even the main lines with freight and local passenger traffic. Any increase in line speed on the existing routes would require an expensive upgrade to in-cab signalling. Even so, the speed limit on some sections of the East Coast Main Line was raised to 140 mph during the upgrade and electrification of the route during the 1980s (both the Pendolinos used on the West Coast Main Line and the Intercity 225s used on the East Coast Main Line are capable of 140 mph). Much of this traffic is handled by 200 km/h diesel-electric powered InterCity 125 High Speed Trains which are around three decades old. However National Express East Coast trains on the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross and York (which also use more modern InterCity 225s) still achieve an average point-to-point speed that puts them in the world top six.

An attempt was made in the 1970s and 1980s to introduce a high-speed train that could operate on Britain's winding infrastructure—British Rail developed the Advanced Passenger Train using active tilting technology. After four prototypes had been built and tested, the project was closed down when Margaret Thatcher and British Railways management lost confidence in the technology. The tilting action on demonstration runs induced a feeling akin to seasickness in the passengers, leading to the train being nicknamed the 'vomit comet,' and the prototypes were expensive to operate and unreliable. However, the problems were near to a solution, and ultimately the technology was a success. British Rail sold it to an Italian firm, who fixed the problems. Trains based on the older technology have been in service in Italy for several years. In 2004, following a large investment in the West Coast Main Line, tilting Pendolinos, based on the Italian trains, were introduced. These trains are currently limited to a top speed of 125 mph although they were designed to run faster—cost over-runs on the track and signalling refurbishment project led to the line being rebuilt with the lower speed limit rather than the 140 mph originally planned. The Pendolinos are operated by Virgin Trains, on services from London Euston to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester (with occasional services to Holyhead although for the foreseeable future these will continue to be hauled by diesel locomotives west of Crewe due to the lack of overhead line equipment).

Last year, several proposals for domestic British high speed lines have been put forward and the government is considering building a north-south line. For more information, see High-speed rail in the United Kingdom.


Ireland's current fastest Intercity service is the Dublin to Cork "InterCity" service, which operates at 160 km/h (100mph). Iarnrod Éireann (Irish Rail) has recently bought new Mark4 Coaches from CAF of Spain, which have a design speed of 200 km/h (125 mph). However, they are currently operated with 10 year old Class 201 locomotives with a maxiumum speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). Iarnród Éireann plan to purchase powercars and upgrade the route to 200 km/h (125 mph) standard. On the Dublin to Belfast line, IÉ are considering the following options for after 2020 (when the existing De Dietrich Ferroviaire coaches will be life expired):
* Upgrading the route to 200 km/h (125 mph) with new carriages with journey times of 90 mins.
* Upgrading the route to 240 km/h (140 mph) with tilting trains, which would cut times to 60 minutes

There are discussions about a rail tunnel from Ireland to Britain, the Irish Sea Tunnel. It is not considered economically viable for foreseeable time.

Central and Eastern Europe

There are extensive plans to develop the rail, road and water transportation infrastructure of Central and Eastern Europe. Most plans involve rail speed below TGV standards, but would still vastly improve travel times.

Czech Republic

The ČD Railway has been running the Super City Pendolino between Prague to Vienna and Bratislava since 2005. The Pendolino is capable of reaching a speed of 230 km/h. They don't operate at that speed, rather like 160 km/h (see Czech rail records), but this will be increased in future.


With the highway construction program in its final stages, the Croatian parliament has passed a bill to build its first high-speed line, a new Botovo-Zagreb-Rijeka line, with an initial maximum planned speed of 200 km/h. [cite web |url=http://www.wieninternational.at/en/node/3426 |title=Croatia constructing Zagreb-Rijeka Adriatic express line
] . The cost of the new line is estimated at 9,244,200,000 kuna (approx. 1.6 bil USD). The project will include the modernization of the current Botovo-Zagreb-Jospidol line and a construction of a completely new line between Jospidol and Rijeka.

Also, the European Corridor X (ten), running from the Slovenian border through Zagreb over to Serbian Border is a likely future candidate for the high-speed extension to this line, since it is the most modern Croatian track, already initially built for 160 km/h and fully electrified. It also connects most branch lines in Croatia, connecting also the rapidly growing Croatian cities of Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci, with also the Corridor Vc (five c) crossing here, towards Osijek.

Poland and the Baltics

New links to Warsaw from Berlin and Prague are planned, as is a North/South Rail Baltica line from Tallinn to Warsaw via Riga and Kaunas. In Poland there is a plan for a "Y" line that will connect Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw and Lodz. The geometric layout of the line will be designed to permit speeds of 350 km/h. Construction is planned to begin in about 2014 and finish in 2019. The total cost of the line for construction and train sets has been put at €6.9bn. [cite news | title=Polish high speed plan | url=http://www.railwaygazette.com/news_view/article/2008/08/8766/polish_high_speed_plan.html | work=Railway Gazette International | date=2008-08-27 ]

Hungary and Romania

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-Constanta. 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 design to support speeds up to 300 km/h, but no technical details have been made public as of March 2008.


In 1974 2 experimental high-speed trainsets (designed for 200km/h operation) were built: 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 continue their service until nowadays.

Russia's current highest speed railway is the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway with a top speed of 200km/h, using domestic trainsets. It is being upgraded to 250 km/h to be using German ICE's. Plans for other railways are following, including a Helsinki-St. Petersburg Pendolino, and Moscow-Sochi using Japanese Shinkansen.

Russia has the following lines in consideration or under construction:

* The Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway is being updated to allow a home-built ICE-based cooperative design to reach 250 km/h (150 mph) by 2009, though the trains are 300 km/h normal operation capable. Construction started in 2004 and train work assembly in 2007, with 8 widened Siemens Velaros ordered, pic [http://www.siemens.com/index.jsp?sdc_p=cfi1075924lmno1456356ps5uz3&sdc_bcpath=1327899.s_5%2C1047890.s_5%2C1176441.s_5%2C&sdc_sid=28109002154& here] . At the moment, the fastest trains in that route are «ER-200» and «Nevsky Express» with cruising speed 160-180 km/h (100-120 mph).

* Helsinki - St. Petersburg: Finland and Russia have agreed on a high speed rail line linking Helsinki and St. Petersburg, originally planned to be cut to 3.5 hrs using existing Finnish Pendolinos by 2008, now Alstom has signed a contract in August 2007 with Karelian Trains for four (4) "New Pendolino" derivatives and options for 2 more. Times will be cut from 5.5 hours to 3 hours, with passport checks being carried out on-board the trains. Due to begin open in 2010. [ [http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070905/76882630.html RIA Novosti - Russia - Alstom to supply high-speed trains for St. Petersburg-Helsinki route ] ] [Press release, [http://www.alstom.com/pr_corp_v2/2007/corp/44990.EN.php?languageId=EN&dir=/pr_corp_v2/2007/corp/&idRubriqueCourante=23132 Alstom to supply high speed Pendolino trains for the Helsinki to St. Petersburg rail link] , 2007-09-05.] It is not clear if the Pendolino plan was cancelled in favor of the Alstom trains or if they will simply be replaced or added.

* Moscow-Kaliningrad: high speed line plan existed previously.

* Moscow-Sochi route: Recently, serious talks with Sumitomo Corporation of Japan for Shinkansen for the Moscow-Sochi route (for Sochi's successful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics).

* Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod route, to use Shinkansen along with Sochi, although the contract was previously eyed for use by the German ICE's. [cite web|url=http://www.russianewswire.com/releases_headlines_details.php?id=10258|title=Yakunin Meets Chairman of Sumitomo

* Transiberian Railway : Russia is in preliminary talks with Japan for long term plans to replace the trains on the Transiberian Railway with a Shinkansen derivate.

According to RZhD Director Vladimir Yakunin, Russia will have several high-speed railroads by 2012 - 2014. [cite web|url=http://www.therussiajournal.com/node/7139|title=High-speed railroads to appear in Russia by 2014 - Yakunin (Interfax)


Turkey has started building high-speed rail lines in 2003. The first line, from İstanbul (via Eskişehir to Ankara , is under construction and will open in 2007 reducing the traveling time from 6 – 7 hours to 3 hours 10 minutes. The Ankara - Konya line began construction in 2006. A travel time of 70 minutes is foreseen for this track. Several other lines between major cities such as Ankara - Afyon - Uşak - İzmir, Ankara - Yozgat - Sivas, İstanbul - Bursa, Ankara - Kayseri, Eskişehir - Antalya, Konya - Mersin ( - Adana), İstanbul - Kapıkule (Bulgarian border), Sivas - Kars are planned to be built in coming years. The commercial high speed trains are expected to reach a top speed of 250-300 km/h (150-200 mph). The first 10 high speed train sets are ordered from CAF company, Spain. For further sets to be used in new planned tracks and the current ones under construction, EUROTEM, a joint enterprise between Korean ROTEM and Turkish TÜVASAŞ had been established, and a factory in Adapazarı, Sakarya had been founded.

ee also

*Trans-European high-speed rail network


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