News Ticker

Train Travel News and Best Buys Outside the U.S. — Aug. 2

A view of the eastern tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel at the Faido multifunction station by Hannes Ortlieb (Diskussion) A view of the eastern tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel at the Faido multifunction station by Hannes Ortlieb (Diskussion) via Wikimedia Commons

Summer travel woes are not over:

  • Covid is not over. The latest mutation may be staging a comeback. Expect more places to follow Los Angeles’s lead and reintroduce mask requirements. And Canada has imposed random testing of international arrivals.
  • Europe is still a mess. The heat has eased, but labor troubles remain.
  • Expect some delays and cancellations for at least the next few months.

VIA Rail Canada

  • Nothing new this week. VIA has resumed regular schedules on the route between Niagara Falls and Toronto. No current routes are out of service completely and only the Quebec-Windsor corridor and the transcontinental Canadian are operating at below-normal levels.
  • Through Oct. 1, children aged 2 through 11 accompanying a fare-paying adult pay C$20 on “select” days in the Quebec-Windsor corridor and on the Ocean and Canadian and regional trains on any days.

Europe

  • Neither Eurail nor Rail Europe is showing any special deals.
  • The largest British railway labor union has announced plans for strikes on July 27, Aug. 18 and Aug. 20. Strikes will affect 14 main rail operating companies; eight other important lines will also be on strike on July30. So far, the strike call does not affect TFL (Transport for London) regional trains and the underground or Eurostar Chunnel trains, but labor relations are shaky.
  • Heathrow Express travelers in first class now enjoy automatic access to the priority security screening lane at Heathrow at no extra cost. The regular round-trip first-class fare is £55 (about $67) compared to anytime standard class at £37 down to £11 advance purchase. Heathrow Express runs nonstop to/from Paddington in 15 minutes, compared with 28-32 minutes on the less expensive TFL train with six stops. But someday soon the TFL trains will have the added advantage of through Elizabeth Line trains across London to Liverpool Street and the Docklands.
  • Germany has cut the cost of monthly regional transit passes to 9 euros (about $9.50) a month in most parts of the country. The reduced-cost pass covers travel on most trains other than the high-speed ICE trains. The program, designed to lure travelers from cars to transit, will last through September.
  • Eurail notes that some rail systems are currently refusing to accept Eurail Pass on regional TER trains in the South Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur regions. Eurail says it will reimburse costs of buying individual tickets—see Eurail.com for specifics.

Ed Perkins, editor

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

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

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