Travelling by fast rail through Europe is always a pleasure. No massive toll road fees, no parking issues, no big city traffic jams.
And the launch of several new high-speed lines over the next year or two are about to make some of the most popular rail routes a whole lot easier.
Rail Europe reports that four new train services will add to the continent's expanding portfolio of existing high-speed services, with the latest addition being the Gotthard Express in Switzerland, which started operations in December, 2016.
Spring in France will see the services of the new Paris-Rennes line begin operation, reducing travel time between the two cities to an hour 25 minutes, reducing the trip by 30 minutes.
Then, from mid-year, the new Paris-Bordeaux high-speed service will save travellers an hour of travelling time from the current three-hour journey.
Over in Germany, the key cities of Berlin and Munich will be brought closer together with their new high-speed connection service scheduled to start in December. The direct connection will travel at 300kph, shortening the journey to under four hours from the current six.
Then, in 2018, Spain will introduce the world's fifth-largest, third-deepest tunnel, "Variente de Pajares", which
will link Madrid to Asturias via the cities of León, Oviedo and Gijon. Journeys on the current route will be shortened by about two hours.
Rail Europe reports that it has enjoyed an average of 7% increase in rail pass and ticket sales annually. www.raileurope.com.au.