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Passenger Rail > Western Europe

Intercity train services and routes in Western Europe

TGV crossing the Gümmenen viaduct; Sarine River. Berne, Switzerland

Passenger trains meet travel and tourism needs to rail destinations across Western Europe. Photo: TGV crossing the G&uulet;mmenen viaduct, Sarine River. Berne, Switzerland. © Chriusha.


Rail is better suited to Austria's scenic, mountainous terrain than other land travel choices. Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen) operates most trains. High-speed Railjet trains connect Vienna and larger Austrian cities like Salzburg, Innsbruck and Graz. IC (InterCity) trains make more stops and take a bit longer. REX (Regional Express) and R (Regional) trains serve local areas. EN (EuroNight) trains connect distant cities overnight. WESTbahn, a budget alternative to ÖBB, runs between Vienna and Salzburg.
Cross-border: Many Austrian trains cross into neighboring countries including Railjet to Munich, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava. Other connections include high-speed ICE (InterCity Express) to Germany and EC (Eurocity) to Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Poland. EN (EuroNight) and CNL (CityNightLine) overnight trains connect Austrian and cross-border destinations. Economical EURegio trains cross into Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Ready to go: The Austrian Federal Railways website has trip planning information and online booking. In the U.S., tickets and passes can be purchased from Rail Europe or ACP Rail.


Belgian trains are punctual and relatively cheap. They are operated by Belgian National Railways, aka NMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen) in Flemish and SNCB (Société nationale des chemins de fer belges) in French. IC (InterCity) trains are fastest followed by IR (InterRegio) which stop at more stations. CityRail provides additional service to the Brussels area.
International: high-speed Thalys trains link Brussels with Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, and (via Eurostar ) London. Other high-speed services from Brussels include TGV (train à grande vitesse) to France and ICE (InterCity Express) to Germany. Domestic trains are well integrated with cross-border stations including Luxembourg. Ready to go:The Belgian National Railways website has trip planning information and online booking. In the U.S., tickets and passes can be purchased from Rail Europe or ACP Rail.


French National Railways SNCF - Société nationale des chemins de fer francáis‰. With Paris as its hub, France's pioneering high-speed network continues to expand. High-speed TGV (train à grande vitesse) trains connect principal French cities and destinations like Disneyland, the Mediterranean and the Alps. IN Intercitiés long-distance trains link TGV stations with destinations not served by high-speed rail. Intercités de Nuit trains criss-cross the country overnight. Ouigo, a low-cost TGV service run by SNCF, connects a growing number if cities. TER (Transport Express Regional) trains meet the needs of local areas. Seasonal Auto/train transport is available between Paris and the South of France. International: high-speed TGV lines, including Thalys and Eurostar, connect with Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Separate EC (EuroCity) trains serve selected Belgian, German and Swiss cities. Thello night trains connect cities between Paris and Venice. Ready to go: The SNCF French Railways website has trip planning information and online booking. SNCF subsidiary iDTGV sells discounted tickets online (select cities only). In the U.S., tickets and passes can be purchased from Rail Europe or ACP Rail.

Rail Europe


Germany's trains enjoy a well-deserved reputation for being clean, comfortable, and on time. DB (Deutsche Bahn AG), Germany's railway company, operates Europe's largest passenger rail network. High-speed ICE (InterCity-Express) trains connect most major German cities. Fastest are ICE Sprinter which offer non-stop service between Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf. IC (InterCity) trains connect bigger cities with less traveled destinations. City Night Line (CNL) trains link Berlin and Hamburg with Munich. Local services include Regionalbahn, faster Regional-Express (RE), and suburban S-Bahn trains in major metropolitan areas. Private company Viola operates HEX (Harz-Berlin-Express) on weekends.
Cross-border: DB ICE (InterCity-Express) trains continue into Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands; EuroCity (EC) trains reach into eight neighboring countries. Austria's RailJet connects Munich to Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest. City Night Line (CNL) international trains connect with Zurich, Amsterdam and major Italian cities. High-speed Thalys trains run betyween Cologne and Paris. Ready to go: The DB (Deutsche Bahn AG) website has trip planning information and online booking. In the U.S., tickets and passes can be purchased from Rail Europe or ACP Rail.


See OeBB Austrian Federal Railways above

OeBB administers the country's 6-mi/9.5-km segment of mainline between Feldkirch, Austria, and Buchs SG, Switzerland.


Luxembourg City

Mainline service extends in five directions from Lux City with destinations including the castle village of Vianden and the famous Ardennes Woods. International: Trains connect with Brussels, Paris, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. Travel notes: wheelchair access (selected trains/selected stations), bicycle transport (as space permits).


See SNCF French National Railways above

SNCF trains connect Gare du Monaco with the European network.


Amsterdam-based National Carrier

Among the world's busiest railways, NS operates as many as eight trains an hour on its most traveled lines. Activity is highest within the country's bustling Randstad -- the "rim city" corridor that contains Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. High-speed HSL-Zuid trains link Amsterdam and Schiphol International Airport with Rotterdam and The Hague. Other services include Stoptrein and Sprinter local and Intercities long-distance trains.International: high-speed Thalys to Belgium and France; ICEto Germany and Switzerland. Separate EC (EuroCity) service to selected German cities. CityNightLine night trains to Munich and Zurich. Travel Notes: Wheelchair access (most trains/most stations), special needs discount, bicycle transport (most trains), bicycle hire (selected stations), all trains are non-smoking, reservations required for NS Hispeed, Thalys and ICE International.


Bern-based national carrier

With punctuality exceeding 95%, SBB trains coast among Switzerland's postcard peaks and scenic valleys. High-speed RE (RegioExpress) trains and ICN (InterCity Neigezug) tilt-trains connect most major Swiss cities. Other services include IC (InterCity) long-distance, IR (InterRegio) regional and R (Regio) local trains. International: High-speed Cisalpino to Italy; ICE (InterCity Express) to Germany and TGV (train ý grande vitesse) to France. EC (EuroCity) service to selected cities in Austria, Belgium, Italy and Germany. Night trains include CityNightLine to Netherlands, Germany and (seasonal) Denmark; EN (EuroNight) to France, Germany and Italy.

Bern-centered regional carrier

The country's second largest standard-gauge railway provides cross-border service connecting the Swiss capital with Milan. Trains travel from Bern to Brig via the Lötschberg tunnel before continuing through the Simplon tunnel to Italy. Car transport trains run from Kandersteg to Iselle on selected weekends and holidays.


The north-western canton of Jura is served by this small, mostly narrow-gauge railway. Lines link SaignelÈgier with Glovelier and La Chaux-de-Fonds. Connections for Tramelan may be made at Le Noirmont. A separate standard gauge railway operates between Porrentruy and Bonfol.


Trans-border trains between Switzerland and Italy are operated jointly by Swiss Federal Railways, FS Trenitalia and BLS Lötschbergbahn. Services include high-speed Pendolino tilt-trains linking Basel, Bern and Zurich via Milan with Bologna, Florence and Trieste. Conventional lines extend services from Geneva and Lucerne to Venice. Travel notes: Wheelchair access (limited availability), bicycle transport (all trains except Pendalino).


Trains connect Brig with G–schenen and with Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn. A branch line links Andermatt and Disentis. A separate rail shuttle connects the Matterhorn Terminal Täsch car park with the car-free village of Zermatt. Car transport is available from Oberwald to Realp via the Furka Tunnel. Travel notes: Wheelchair access (Matterhorn shuttle only).

Chur-based regional railway

Switzerland's largest private railway network operates most service in the south-western canton of Grison/Graubünden. Fast Regio Express trains connect Disentis/Mustér to Scuol-Taras via Chur, Landquart and the Vereina tunnel; Chur to St. Moritz via the Albula tunnel; and Landquart to Klosters and Davos. Separate Bernina line service links St. Moritz and Tirano. Auto transport through Vereina and Albula tunnels. RhB also operates Bernina Express and Engadin Star tourist trains. Travel notes: wheelchair access, bicycle transport (selected trains), bicycle hire (some stations).


Swiss Federal Railways and FS Trenitalia operate this regional service connecting the Swiss canton of Ticino with Lombardy, Italy.

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