News Ticker

Train Travel Outside the U.S. — Nov. 16

The Glacier Express between the Furka and the Oberalp Pass near Hospental - by Christof Sonderegger The Glacier Express between the Furka and the Oberalp, near Hospental in the Canton Uri. - (c) Switzerland Tourism - by swiss-image.ch/ Christof Sonderegger

VIA Rail has not changed its approximate dates for service improvements on major routes:

  • The transcontinental Canadian will resume its normal summer schedule in May 2022.
  • The Ocean will add a second weekly frequency in December and a third weekly frequency in June.
  • Various regional routes will resume full service in June.

Rail Europe announced a 25% discount sale on all Swiss Travel Pass options. Buy through Dec. 11, travel up to 11 months after purchase.

VIA Rail Canada  

As with Amtrak, VIA has not yet responded to the border reopening. Service to Niagara Falls remains canceled. As noted in “Headlines,” the Canadian and the Ocean will gradually increase frequencies through June.

A new Canadian rule requires all air and rail travelers to be vaccinated.

Europe

Europe remains a question. Although Europe has now opened to vaccinated travelers from the U.S., barriers remain, and each country imposes different conditions. Eurail posts current COVID-19 information on this page, and RailEurope posts information on this page, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts Covid restrictions on international travel here. 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’re 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, Spain was 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.

Currently, neither Eurail nor Rail Europe has a useful rail promotion.

The French rail system announced it would start “Vitesse Classique low-fare service on two routes early next year: Paris to Lyon and Paris to Nantes, both using conventional (not high speed) locomotives and coaches over old non-high-speed tracks. One-way fares will range from 10 euros to 30 euros, which will be much lower than TGV fares for the same routes. Although using “classic” rather than high-speed equipment, classic trains in France have always been pretty fast by world standards.

Other Areas

Nothing new.

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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