The lack of existing lines makes it very easy to tell the story of high-speed train travel in the UK.
You’re snuggled up on the sofa, laptop on your knees, and you’re searching for a train ticket for the following evening. Bad news: the ticket is far more expensive than it was just a couple of days ago.
As you may well know, on May 24 2022, another new line appeared on the world’s oldest underground network (which first opened in 1863). It’s named the Elizabeth Line in homage to Queen Elizabeth II.
So today we’ll be telling you about how US Air Force doctor John Stapp tested the limits of the human body thanks to the Gee Whiz and Sonic Wind n°1.
With its 150,000 kilometres of railway lines, China has the second most extensive train network in the world after the USA. But that’s not all.
Not all that well known in Europe, this was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses that allowed American slaves to flee the southern states.
It all started on July 9 1918 in Nashville, the capital of the state of Tennessee.
In 2015, China announced it intended to build a train line linking the Brazilian Altantic coast with the Peruvian Pacific coast: Trans-Amazonian Railway.
It’s the end of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Révolution is well under way in France, and iron is the manufacturing material du jour.
Although a trip up the Eiffel Tower takes you in a perpendicular direction to that of a train, climbing up the iconic monument really does, somehow and in a way that’s rather hard to articulate, evoke the sensations, emotions and general atmosphere of the railways.
Following a climate catastrophe, a new ice age has made the entirety of the planet uninhabitable. Only a handful of survivors remain, and they’re all on board a train that never stops moving.
So let’s go, and explore a world where the criminal underworld and the rail industry intertwine.
Having introduced you to ‘La Bestia’, the so-called ‘death train’ Central American immigrants use to cross Mexico, Midnight Weekly is returning to those parts this week to tell you about the Tren Maya.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an Aérotrain. That’s how the credits for a Netflix series about this far-fetched invention would start.
Day is dawning in the small town of Arriaga, in the state of Chiapas. Suddenly, the train sets off. In an instant, men, women and children emerge from the shadows and grasp onto the sides of the train.
Seventeen years earlier, Japan in fact launched the first high-speed train in the world: the Shinkansen. Still in service today, the trains are known for their punctuality, safety and comfort – all qualities that often come at a high price.
In 2012, it told a Californian newspaper how he intended to launch a mode of transport travelling at more than 1,000 km/hour thanks to capsules propelled in a vacuum tunnel.
They can shorten distances, all while reminding you of their immensity. The writer Blaise Cendrars summed up this sentiment with a line of great simplicity.
Since the end of the 1940s, it’s been said that faced with the arrival of the Red Army in the region, Nazi higher-ups had packed a proper fortune into a packed train that they hid in a network of military tunnels.
We like to think that many of the great challenges humanity has tried to overcome are born of a thirst for discovery and adventure. However, often they may be motivated by something else entirely: the exploitation of resources.
People often talk of life as a series of chance encounters, defined largely by luck, but it could also be seen as a sequence of accidents. Small ones that graze knees and cut fingers; big ones that break your heart; monumental ones that hit the frontpages.
If you’ve already started planning a holiday this summer, you’ll have noticed that the cost of flights has increased dramatically – and that is likely because fuel prices have been rising for several months now.
A small girl with hair swept over her eyes, a large man with a black hat, a young woman in a white dress on the side of the road: we can all name a ghostly presence that’s terrified us since childhood.
Some ghosts have a thick skin. That’s certainly the case of the Orient-Express, the mythical train that linked Paris with Istanbul via several major European cities including Venice, Vienna, Belgrade and Budapest.
This idea captivated the British leaders. At the time, the aim was clear: connecting the two major British isles would cement the links between the islands’ citizens.
Just a few years ago, the international press was raving about the ‘Erasmus generation’. These international students, often very privileged, wouldn’t have been able to sate their desire to explore the wider world without one incredibly useful tool: Ryanair.
As it happens, an underwater tunnel will link La Ciotat with the city of Ajaccio in Corsica in two hours and 15 minutes (over a total of 326km).
Marseille, September 1938. At the time, France’s second city didn’t have a good rep. Local mobsters ruled the roost, conducting large-scale looting all over the place.
What if heads of state gave up the good old government airplane? If there’s one person who doesn’t need convincing, it’s Elizabeth II. For she’s always had the British Royal Train at her disposal.
Madrid’s metro, for what it’s worth, is the seventh-biggest in the world with its 294 km of tracks, making it all the more ripe for imaginative storytelling.
European rail firms have mobilised to help evacuate civilians and victims of the war, carrying them off to lands untouched by the ravages of bombs and bullets. To tell you all about it, we decided to hand over the mic to Nick Brooks, the secretary-general of ALLRail.
Poetry’s intimate relationship with the railways in fact goes back nearly two centuries, trains acting as muses to the world’s writers.
Have you ever passed through the Gare de l’Est in Paris? If you happened to be standing on either platform three or four, you may well have walked over a bunker built more than 80 years ago. Building a shelter beneath Quite the idea, hey?
In the 1830s, the heads of state of the various territories that made up the Italian peninsula started to show interest in the promise offered by the railways.
This near-mythical train has been running since 1994, allowing millions of people to cross the Channel and embrace their European heritage. But inevitably, the lethal combination of the pandemic and Brexit has caused the rail service great trouble.
Let’s zoom in on Spain. According to myth, the Spanish wanted to set themselves apart from the rest of Europe for one main reason: Napoleon.
Corinne Menegaux, the director-general of the Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris explains how Paris is trying to set an example as a sustainable tourism destination. A lot is at stake for the City of Light, one of the world’s most-visited cities.
Anyone who’s visited Paris no doubt will have admired the building, if not been inside to take in all the majestic art inside. Right in the heart of the French capital, overlooking the Seine, stands the Musée d’Orsay, just over the river from the extraordinary Tuileries Gardens.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of difficulty for the flight sector, climate change poses an even greater (and more enduring) challenge. In this report, the researchers explored various paths the industry can follow to survive in the long term, based on findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Seven. It’s a magic number that’s no doubt cropped up in innumerable stories since we were kids, and so it’s perhaps not by chance that it’s also the number of stations from which it is possible to leave Paris for further afield.
σπεῦδε βραδέως. Make haste slowly. This Greek (and later Roman) adage really suits the world of railways. This saying played some role inspiring those who invented the first-ever railway – or rather a very significant ancestor of it. Let’s travel 2,600 years back in time to the Mediterranean coast.
Albane Godard is the director-general of the Fondation GoodPlanet, created by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The mission of this foundation is to raise awareness of ecology and the environment, and Albane Godard without a doubt is the person to do just that.
In 1936, around 60 years after it was first written by Verne, another artist started dreaming of another 80-day world tour. The geopolitical situation in Europe was as delicate as ever, and Jean Cocteau wanted to live a little. He wanted to see the world.
October 17 1961. Among travellers passing through are two young, handsome guys who run into each on platform 2. They’re 18 years old, their whole lives ahead of them. The first goes by the name Michael Philip Jagger, the second Keith Richards. And it’s the latter who told the story of their meeting best, in a letter to his aunt a few months later.
We’ll be lifting the lid on an application of the railways that is perhaps best viewed from space. Because while the general tendency of the rails has been to connect nations, to share goods ideas and to bring people together, in some cases they’ve been used to divide and cut regions off from the rest of the world.
We’re going to tell you the story of the biggest bank heist of all time – the time Resistance fighters in France robbed billions from a Banque de France train, just as the Second World War was coming to a close.
The mountainous terrain of the champion in question hasn’t held it back. Spread across its 41,285 square kilometres, Switzerland has no less than 5,300 kilometres of railway, with 29,000 kilometres of lines. That makes it one of the most dense railway networks in Europe.
Today, trains have been reborn thanks to the climate crisis, and leaders haven’t overlooked the opportunity presented by this revival. Let’s take the Rail Baltica project which started back in the 1990s.
These days, France and the UK resemble an old couple, that despite everything, will never separate. There are quarrels that arise that are still irreconcilable. But still, there have been achievements that many people would never have thought possible.
She came from a poor family in Missouri, where she was subject to racial segregation, but found her true home in Paris, where she arrived at just 19 years old. After a long boat trip from New York to Cherbourg, she arrived at the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris aboard a train from Normandy one morning in 1925.
Hubris. Six letters that the ancients used to denote a red line that shouldn’t be crossed – unless they wanted to risk angering the Gods. Today hubris corresponds to what you might describe as human folly, a mix of pride and excess that can lead to violent and often outrageous behaviour beyond all imagination.
There are a thousand ways to travel by train. Some see it as a pause, a moment of respite from the daily grind. Others view it as a way to discover the landscapes that file past the window. And then there are those who see an opportunity to work away at something, an idea. The journey becomes their inspiration.
When Consuelo remembered the first time she’d travelled to the USSR, in 1986, and had taken the train for 56 hours. So she called up SNCF to find out whether this train was still running to Moscow. The person on the other end said there was no longer such a service. Consuelo asked why. The only response she got after that was: ‘We have no information for you, because we don’t speak to the Russians.’
A thoroughly wintry story – one that inspired Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient-Express. On January 1 1934, when she published this legendary thriller, Christie could have had little idea how widely her Hercule Poirot caper would be read.
Just as the Petite Ceinture was built to improve life for Parisians – and give the French economy a boost – so today the French capital has plans for another big railway project that will better connect the city centre with the surrounding banlieues. Introducing the Grand Paris Express.
The relationship between the French capital and the train is almost as old as the first railway lines. And in fact, very early on, the city set up its own internal train network that still breathes life into the city today – even if it doesn’t have its original function.
We’ll be taking you to the most convivial of places on board: the restaurant carriage, where you’ll be able to sit down to dine or simply pull up a stool at the bar and drink a glass of natural wine or a homemade cocktail.
When David Bowie died in 2016, he was celebrated as a musical genius and a rock icon. There was his voice, his songwriting talent, his taste for the avant-garde, his beauty. He got an appropriately huge send-off.
A decent meal, and the conviviality it can provide, is one of our musts when it comes to preparing the trains that will allow our passengers to travel all over Europe from our Paris HQ. What can you expect?
This line had two names: Fugleflugtslinjen (in Danish) ou Vogelfluglinie (en German), which both mean the ‘bird flight line’. Something to do with the technical prowess of the train drivers, perhaps?
The nineteenth century was the period when the railways really got going. Politics, economics and a general ambition to spread influence all over the continent – all combined to accelerate technological progress and led to the development of rail lines across Europe.
Did you know that each year, people in France have the right to savings of between 25 to 50 percent on a return train in France for them, their partner and their children?
Still today, the Orient-Express is the sleeper train that people all over the world are likely to be able to name. And while we have all probably heard our own stories and anecdotes about this mythical service, we want to tell you a bit about a side of its history that’s little known to most: the love affairs it has provided cover for.
Before exploring one of the most beautiful Celtic nations in the world, we’ll be kicking off this edition of Midnight Weekly in a train station much further south – Porto’s São Bento. And we’ll say this straight off the bat: this is one of the most beautiful stations in the world.
We are going to be travelling through the Pyrénées, not far from the Franco-Spanish border. To be precise, we’ll be stopping off at the international train station in Canfranc, which is often referred to as the Flying Dutchman of the railways.
A train pulls into the station, the sky a radiant hue, before steadily slowing down and stopping. So far, so normal: passengers descend from the carriages; others climb aboard. Nothing really extraordinary happens. But actually, it did.
Moving fast, running has become a way to reassure us we are really living. But within this infinite rush, is it still possible to find the distance necessary to define what’s really indispensable for us to feel fulfilled?
There are a handful of stories from the time still well worth sharing. One pretty much guaranteed to make you smile is the one known as the tale of the Tsar’s finger.
It would be pretty difficult for a company aiming for its trains to whisk travellers across Europe all night long not to look at what’s happening in the Land of the Rising Sun right now.
Let’s get a little bit closer to the Lombard capital by climbing aboard an iconic service: the Train Bleu. This history of this legendary train closely mirrors that of sleeper trains in general, from their heyday to their decline.
We’re getting closer to our arrival in Milan, and so what better way in than to climb aboard another train – one of those run by the company Italo. This private railway firm was the first business in Europe to specialise in high-speed rail travel.
All those safety protocols can get a little off-putting, let's be honest. Are you among the 30 percent of people who are afraid of flying?
It’s a Swedish word we’d like to focus on to start with: a specific term that sums up the spirit of the moment, tågskryt, or literally, pride in taking the train.
It’s a long forgotten bestseller. In 1926, at the height of the Roaring Twenties, La Madone des sleepings enjoyed a success worthy of a Goncourt Prize. Its 400,000 copies showcase the colorful adventures of Lady Diana Winham, a resolutely free woman who has chosen to live exclusively on board international night trains.
Today we’re travelling back in time to an era where Paris, Milan, Madrid, Hamburg and Copenhagen weren’t yet part of the same time zone.