Countdown to December 9th 2018

The majority of European train timetables have just one annual major update, and in 2018 it took place on December 9th.

Hence THIS GUIDE to those new train services now supersedes the info on this page.

We’re not 100% certain of the logic behind this, as it comes just before one of the busiest times of the year for train travel.

So in 2018 this timetable update will occur on Sunday December 9th

Why does this matter?

Three reasons:

(1) Brand new services and faster routes have commenced on this date

Therefore many of the new and improved train services, which will be available throughout 2019, have already entered service.

(3) Longer services and routes were to be discontinued, have now ceased operating.

Shorter, more local routes tend to be withdrawn more randomly.

(3) New trains have also entered service


It looks as though 2018 was an exceptionally uneventful year for major train timetable changes on continental Europe!

No new major high speed lines, or exceptionally lengthy routes were brought into service.


Berlin ↔ Wien/Vienna via Nurnberg on direct ICE trains:

The capitals of Germany and Austria will once again be connected by direct daytime  trains, as a brand new service via Nurnberg will more than make up for the withdrawal of the previous service via Praha, a few years ago.

 A daily ICE train will travel on the high speed line between Halle and Nurnberg and then travel between Nurnberg and Wien/Vienna via Linz.

So Linz is now also served by direct trains to and from Berlin.

These trains will depart from Berlin hbf daily at the convenient time of 10:05 and arrive in Wien at 17:45.

In the other direction they will depart Wien Hbf at 10:15 and arrive in Berlin at 17:58.


Berlin ↔ Wien/Vienna AND Budapest via Wroclaw by Nightjet

A new Nightjet service will restore the overnight train link between Berlin and both Vienna/Wien and Budapest - it is scheduled to depart from Berlin Hbf at 18:40.

In the opposite direction the train will depart from Budapest at 19:25 and from Wien/Vienna at 22:10

Instead of taking the route via Praha/Prague that the pereviously withdrawn EuroNight train followed, it will take a new route via Wroclaw in Poland.

This train will also restore the direct 'daytime' train service between Berlin and Wroclaw - it will depart from Berlin Hbf at 18:41 and Berlin Ost at 18:51 and arrive in Wroclaw at 23:00.

Though in the other direction it will depart from Wroclaw at the bracingly early time of 05:05.


 Bratislava ↔ Zurich via Wien and Salzburg
Railjet to Bratislava

Access by train to and from the Slovakian capital is to be transformed for the better.

One of the daily Railjet services in each direction on the Zurich ↔ Wien/Vienna route is to have its journey extended to and from Bratislava.

The city will then also be linked by direct trains to and from Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg.


Improved services to and from Romania:

The capital cities of Hungary and Romania will once again be linked by direct DAY trains, which will provide an alternative to the overnight trains from Budapest to Buccuresti/Bucharest.

The restored daytime IC train will depart from Keleti station in Budapest daily at 07:10, for an epic journey that arrives in Buccuresti at 23:22.

The daytime trains between Budapest and Cluj Napoca will also have their journeys extended from/to Wien/Vienna, providing a new direct daytime train service between Austria and Romania.



Trains between Lille and The Netherlands to be discontinued:

Lille will no longer be served by Thalys trains to/from Antwerp and The Netherlands.

Instead the Thalys trains which currently serve Lille, will be switched to travel to/from Marne La Vallée, to provide daily direct trains between Disneyland Paris and both Rotterdam and Amsterdam.


Withdrawal of the direct Bruxelles/Lille to Nice train:

The direct TGV train from Bruxelles to Nice via Lille is being discontinued.

The best alternative is to travel via Marseille, departing Buxelles-Midi daily at 10:33 and thereby avoiding the need to transfer between stations in Paris.

The direct Bruxelles to Nice called in Lille, so its removal from the timetable means, that for that time being, travelling via Paris is now the only viable option for travelling from London to Nice by train.


Goodbye to the overnight train on the Vienna ↔ Prague route

The removal of this train isn't a huge surprise,. as the daytime service of trains on this route has been improved in recent years.


Service changes:

New Swiss IC trains to enter service:

The long awaited, and rather fabulous, new Twindexx trains (pictured below) will finally be entering service on the principle rail route in Switzerland; namely the IC 1 route;

St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Bern - Fribourg - Lausanne - Geneve.
new Twindex trains for Swiss Intercity train services


 Improvements in Germany:

New ICE 4 trains will be replacing ICE - T trains on the Hamburg - Berlin - Leipzig - Erfurt - Nurnberg - Munchen/Munich route.
ICE 4 between Berlin and Munich
Our understanding is that t
he ICE 3 trains will still be used for the faster 'ICE-Sprinter' services between Berlin and Munchen/Munich, which don't divert off of the direct route to call at Leipzig.

We also understand that some of the ICE-T trains, will then be transferred to the Hamburg - Bremen - Dortmund - Essen - Dusseldorf - Cologne/Koln - Bonn - Koblenz - Mainz - Mannheim - Heidelberg - Stuttgart route - which is currently operated by IC trains.

Stuttgart will also benefit from more ICE trains between the city and Koln/Cologne.


Improvements in Poland:

PKP (InterCity) the operator of express train services in Poland will be operating a record number of services, when the new timetable commences, with more trains on most routes including Warsaw to Krakow.


Changes on some TGV routes in France

French national rail operator offers two types of TGV services (1) Standard InOui services and (2) more basic, but cheaper Ouigo services.

A major difference between these two services used to be that Ouigo services didn't depart from and arrive at stations in central Paris, instead they used stations on the outskirts, and they also used alternatives to the main central stations in other cities.

This policy has been changing in recent years, but SNCF is taking further steps in this direction on the new timetable.

On the routes from both central Lille (Lille Flandres station) and Paris (the Gare De Lyon) to  Avignon, Lyon and Marseille, new Ouigo services have been added, but the number of TGV InOui services has been reduced.


 A new Frecciarossa train from Turin to Lecce via Bari and Ancona

The daily 'Frecce' train on the Adriatic coast route to and from Turin/Torino is to be a Frecciariossa train instead of Frecciabianca train.

As a result it will use the high speed lines between Turin and Bologna, so the journey times between Turin and all destinations south of Bologna - including Ancona, Pescara, Bari and Lecce will be around an hour faster!

It will also call at Milano Porta Garibadi, thereby providing an additional Frecciarossa train between Milano and the Adriatic Coast destinations.