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Lots of changes for international high speed trains (Eurostar & Thalys)

Added: monday 04 December 2006 at 2:22:00
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    Lots of changes for international high speed trains (Eurostar & Thalys)HSAIn Belgium and The Netherlands there have been works since a few years already to create a new high speed line for international and national high speed trains, the HSLSouth in The Netherlands. In February/March 2006 a train already arrived at a speed record of 331,1 km/h on this line French only. In The Netherlands, this line will be exploited by the High Speed Alliance (HSA), a joint venture of NS (the Dutch railway company) and KLM (the Dutch airline company, now merged with Air France) which works together with the Belgian NMBS and the French SNCF railway companies for international journeys.

    In The Netherlands this means that there will be high speed trains between several Dutch stations: Breda, Rotterdam Centraal, Den Haag Centraal, Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal and also to stations abroad (especially the Thalys to Paris). Most of the stations are currently being rebuilt or adapted to receive both national and international high speed trains and their travelers.
    The train to Parijs will continue to use the well-known brand Thalys and the national high speed trains will adopt a new brand which according to the HSA website will be announced in 2005 but which cannot be found anywhere on that same website ...

    HSLZuid: plan and stops - © HSLZuid
    Overview HSL South - © HSLZuid

    In Belgium national and international high speed trains will also use a new high speed line and one of the main rebuildings is the rebuilding of the Antwerp-Central station: this terminus station currently has 10 dead tracks and therefore all trains which arrive in this station have to go out backwards, even if they continue in the same direction to the north ... in order to win time all tracks are being moved around in the station and 4 new continuing tracks will be used to connect this station with the north of Belgium and with The Netherlands (using a tunnel under the city).
    In Belgium there has been / is a lot of work as well for this high speed line and more information about that can be found on the specific website of the NMBS.

    The latest information is that these trains will start using this new high speed line from July 2007 (this was originally announced for April 2007) with a speed between 160 (on improved existing railways) and 300 (on new railways) km/h and it will than be possible to get from Brussels-South to Breda in 1 hour and 1 minute (Paris to Brussels-South now is 1 hour and 25 minutes, so this would total to 2 hours and 26 minutes + the time needed to change trains for Paris-Breda). Currently this would take about 2 hours, twice a much!

    Update 13 February 2007: today -just before the arrival of the new minister (Camiel Eurlings)- the leaving minister of the department of Transport and Communications, Karla Peijs, explained the additional delay which has been announced for the use of the high speed line for Thalys- and HSA-trains.
    In brief she explains in her letter that mainly due to the lack of technical knowledge at her Ministry an extra delay is necessary for the implementation of a new version of the security system ERTMS (short for European Rail Traffic Management System) which is necessary for ensuring security of these trains across the border (an important thing for the trust the users of these trains have to put in the system).

    Clearly, this means no trains will start using this new line in July 2007 but only in December 2007. These trains will than have a maximum speed of 160 kmph (as originally planned for this summer). The 300 kmph speed can only be reached when the new ERTMS system will be delivered in March 2008 and since HSA wants to perform tests during 6 months the end users will not see this happen before October 2008!!

    For more information, please refer to this news message on the website of the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the full letter of (former) Minister Karla Peijs .

    EurostarAnother high speed train, Eurostar, also announced a while ago that there would be some changes for that line. Last week Eurostar sent me a letter and a brochure with information about these changes ...

    Counting has started: Paris-London in 2 hours and 15 minutes

    From Wednesday November 14th, 2007 (that is in almost one year from now) Eurostar will arrive in London at St Pancras International and no longer at Waterloo International. But that's not all: using a new high speed line on the English side of the tunnel the journey will also take 20 minutes less!!
    According to Eurostar the arrival at St Pancras International benefits its users not only because of the 20 minutes less travel time, but also because from this station they will find interconnections with 6 subway lines and 7 railway companies (I didn't even know they had 7 in England!!). From 2008 the number of trains will also grow.

    Wednesday November 14th, 2007, the start of a new era in the world of high speed traveling in Europe and a revolution in the connection between France and UK

    The change in arrival station is necessary to allow the trains to travel at high speed for the whole journey. In addition to all this, a new station will be opened on the line: Ebbsfleet International.

    From Waterloo to St Pancras

    Too bad they cannot introduce the station change and the shorter journey time for the Tour de France 2007, which will start in London :-(.

    All images © HSA, HSLZuid, Eurostar or Thalys

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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