Eurostar to launch high-speed trains between London, Germany

The combined network of Eurostar and Thalys would link five countries under the new Green Speed banner.

By Matt Lennon, May 16 2022
Eurostar to launch high-speed trains between London, Germany

Eurostar high-speed rail services linking the United Kingdom with Germany will be introduced following the merger of Eurostar International and Belgian railway operator, Thalys Group.

Now approved by the European Commission, the combination of the two brands will see cities in Germany’s mid-northwest including Cologne, Dusseldorf and Dortmund added to the Eurostar network – although there’s no indication yet on when those services would start running.

Dubbed ‘Green Speed’ as a project name, the overarching company known as Eurostar Group will see better train connections and a range of digital tools designed to improve information and communication for passengers.

Currently, Eurostar operates direct services between London St Pancras and Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, along with seasonal services to the southern French cities of Marseille and Bordeaux. With the addition of Germany, the merger takes the popular high-speed rail brand’s network to five countries.

The unified Green Speed rail network would span five countries.
The unified Green Speed rail network would span five countries.

The forthcoming addition of Germany builds further on Eurostar’s march across Europe and follows its expansion with direct services between London and Amsterdam, introduced in 2020.

Passengers moving between London and Cologne by rail must currently change trains in Brussels from the Eurostar to a German ICE service, making a journey of just over four hours - one expected to become much quicker on the expanded Eurostar Group network.

Eurostar and Thalys will also merge their respective Club Eurostar and My Thalys World loyalty schemes into “a single passenger loyalty programme” to reward frequent riders, according to a statement issued by both operators.

Depending on their status, members of the free-to-join programs enjoy perks including use of Eurostar Business Premier lounges and partner facilities, seat upgrades and access to discounted redemption windows throughout the network.

The Green Speed proposal puts environmental concerns front and centre.
The Green Speed proposal puts environmental concerns front and centre.

Between them, Eurostar and Thalys run 112 trains per day carrying more than 18.5 million passengers per year, with Eurostar expecting to be carrying 30 million travellers annually within a decade.

A big part of this growth is likely to come from Paris following a recent move by the French government outlawing short-range flights where a train or bus journey of under 2.5 hours was available.

One impacted route could be Paris to Brussels, with the 264 kilometre journey taking around 90 minutes on the train or an hour by plane. While air is slightly faster at one-hour, couple the flight duration with pre-departure formalities and city-airport travel time at both ends, making the train a clearly more efficient option.

For those with more time, overnight rail travel in Europe is making a comeback thanks to some innovative concepts in new hotel-style sleeper trains, and restoring and revitalising classic rolling stock. Aside from the environmental advantages of rail travel over flying, the sheer elegance and romance of riding the rails is likely to entice travellers to see Europe by train once again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 52

Whilst London to Cologne is a step in the right direction. London to Berlin would be even better.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2011

Total posts 46

Indeed it would.  I did Berlin to London back in 2018.  Left Berlin at 7am and arrived in London at 4pm.  Took three trains with changes in Cologne and Brussels.  It was a long day and I still had to get across London on the underground to Waterloo and out to Walton-on-Thames, but arrived at my friends' house about 80 minutes after stepping off the Eurostar.  I already had an oyster card and know my way around on the underground better than a lot of Londoners, so that was easy.  Also had a pre-purchased rail ticket to Walton, so could just get on the next train out.  A long tiring day, but it was an intresting journey though the ICE trains go so fast, you don't see a lot!

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 185

Often used to take the train between Brussels and Frankfurt as it wasn’t much shorter with the extra time taken to taxi to/from airports, waiting for planes to take off, etc. And it allowed me to do a lot of work on the train. Didn’t know there was a high-speed line through the Ardennes though - it’s quite a hilly region.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 150

Be interesting to see if this goes ahead.  15 years ago Deutsche Bahn was promising Frankfurt-London services in time for the 2012 Olympics.  Apparently the difficulties in mismatched signalling and electrical systems were such that it just never happened.  

Art
Art

16 May 2022

Total posts 1

This sounds good, but what is happening about services from Ebbsfleet International? 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 77

When the news about Star Alliance adding a rail partner. I instantly thought it was Eurostar as the logical option.

If Club Eurostar joins into star alliance, it will be fantastic.

30 May 2018

Total posts 30

I live in Paris. A few corrections:

- Paris-Brussels has been operated almost exclusively by the Thalys for over 20 years, with Air France long since discontinuing any air link due to the convenience of HSR and the CDG TGV hub for connections. Air France sell the Thalys CDG Brussels connection as a sector on their bookings.  So the replacement of all O & D air traffic is a 20 year old fact, not a future possibility. 

- The new French law mentioned applies to domestic routes only, such as Paris - Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, etc,  . 

- Thalys is technically not a 'Belgian Group' but a consortium of French SNCF, Belgian Rail (SNCB) and later Dutch NS and German DB. The trains are French TGVs, modified to handle 3 or 4 different high speed signal systems and voltages


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