News Ticker

Train Travel Outside the U.S. — July 20

Swiss railway train traveling between Preda and Bergün by Hansueli Krapf via Wikimedia Commons Swiss railway train traveling between Preda and Bergün by Hansueli Krapf via Wikimedia Commons

Canada announced that fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. will be able to cross the border without any additional testing or quarantine, starting Aug. 9. Travel to Canada remains iffy, however, because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still requires a special test for returning travelers even if they are vaccinated. I am guessing this will change soon, but you cannot count of a hassle-free cross-border trip until Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially changes its requirements.

VIA Rail Canada  

Cross-border trains remains suspended. Resumption is still uncertain.

VIA Rail finally announced resumption of the Ocean, between Montreal and Halifax, slated to operate one round-trip weekly starting from Halifax on Aug. 11. Service on the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver remains at once weekly, westbound Thursday, eastbound Wednesday.

Europe

Europe remains a muddle. Although announcements continue that vaccinated travelers from the U.S. will be able to visit Europe starting “this summer,” no exact dates have been specified and each country will have different dates and remaining requirements. Industry sources seem to think visits may start opening by sometime starting this month. Eurail posts current information on this page and RailEurope posts information on this page. No matter what European countries do, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still requires special Covid tests for incoming citizens even if they are vaccinated.

As far as I can tell, most of us will not go until we are assured that if we are vaccinated, we need no additional tests and face no quarantines either to enter Europe or to fly home. If you can/hope to get to Europe:

  • Rail Europe is selling Swiss railpasses at 25% off the usual price. The sale continues only through July 31, but the pass is valid to start travel up to 11 months after issue. The deal applies to both first and second class. If you plan to visit extensively in Switzerland, the one-country Swiss Pass may be a better deal than Global Eurail: It includes most of the private railroads that Eurail does not.
  • The Eurail promotion continues for its family of passes: Upgrade to fully refundable at no extra cost.
  • Eurostar currently operates three daily roundtrips between London and Paris and one to Amsterdam. The line says it will add trains as demand require Current fares are high, starting at $96 one-way a week or more in advance.

Spain is the first European country to implement a mandated “open access” policy for its high-speed network. As a result, three different companies are or will soon be running domestic schedules with their own high-speed trains between Barcelona and Madrid, with further expansions planned: the Spanish Avelo, French Ouigo and Italian Ilsa. Options include low-fare services. Online rail agencies such as Trainline list and identify all options.

Other Areas

Australia and Canada remain closed to U.S. travelers, with no form reopening dates set.

See our Amtrak news and discounts bulletin for domestic rail news.

Ed Perkins, editor

For more travel tips from Ed Perkins, see our companion site Ed on Travel.

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