From the UK, the starting point is currently the Eurostar, although there is talk of Germany’s high-speed ICEs running through the Channel Tunnel all the way to London. Meantime, however, onward international high speed trains plug into the Eurostar network at Brussels, particularly with the Thalys and the ICE to Cologne, and thence into the domestic German network.Journey time between London and Cologne is 4 hours 11 minutes, and to Frankfurt 5 hours 36 minutes. An alternative route to Frankfurt is via Paris, but it does necessitate a short walk between Gare du Nord and Gare de L’Est to connect between trains. There are also direct and excellent CityNightLine sleeper services from Paris Gare de L’Est to Berlin and to Munich, allowing a late afternoon departure from London and a morning arrival in destination.
A website giving details of the European High Speed network is at www.railteam.co.uk, and is a handy guide to which destinations can be reached at speed, and via which route. For more detail you can consult the very user-friendly Deutsche Bahn website at www.bahn.com/uk, which is worth watching for special deals and is a great resource for rail travel elsewhere in Europe. You can get tickets from Deutsche Bahn’s UK office on 08718 80 80 66, online from www.bahn.com/uk or from Eurostar (08432 186 186, www.eurostar.com) for Cologne and Frankfurt.
RailEurope (08448 484 064, www.raileurope.co.uk), who are actually the UK representative of French railways, will handle bookings for all high speed networks. Agency Railbookers (020 3327 0800, www.railbookers.com) packages train travel with hotels, see our Tour Operators page for more details.
Mark Smith, rail enthusiast turned author and pundit, runs an excellent website detailing worldwide rail services at www.seat61.com, so-called after his favourite seat on the Eurostar. His invaluable Germany page has various routes, timetables and cost-saving tips, and has click-through booking forms.