Experts Propose New High-Speed Train Network in Europe

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lend a hand / lɛnd ə hænd / (idiom) – to help someone

    Jake is really busy today, so if you finish your tasks early, please lend a hand to him.

  2. obsolete / ˌɒb səˈlit / (adj) – referring to something that is no longer in use

    Some people believe that the internet made sending letters in the mail obsolete.

  3. span / spæn / (v) – to cover or extend over or across an area

    They’re going to build a highway that spans the entire province.

  4. powerhouse / ˈpaʊ ərˌhaʊs / (n) – a group or team that holds a lot of strength or skill

    The company quickly became a technological powerhouse because of its innovative products.

  5. transcontinental / ˌtræns kɒn tnˈɛn tl / (adj) – going or extending across a continent

    The transcontinental railway makes traveling to other countries faster.


Read the text below.

Experts have proposed building an ultra-rapid train (URT) network that connects Europe’s capital cities as part of a plan to help the continent recover from recent economic losses.

The European Union (EU) is proposing a €2 trillion recovery package to lend a hand to countries that were affected by lockdowns. The package is aimed particularly at industries that were immensely affected, such as travel and tourism.

The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, a renowned research institution, published a proposal for the budget that includes plans for a high-speed train network. According to the proposal, the new train system would reduce current rail travel time by half, potentially making most air travel within Europe obsolete. Its proponents say that if the URT could reach speeds of 250 to 350 kilometers per hour, travel from Paris to Berlin would only take roughly four hours.

Currently, Europe has a number of high-speed rail lines, including the TGV in France and the AVE in Spain. However, there are no lines spanning the entire European continent.

The proposed major railway lines for the URT would be built on existing train networks and would offer routes between Paris and Dublin, Lisbon and Helsinki, Brussels and Valetta, and Berlin and Nicosia. The new routes would connect possible EU candidate countries like Albania and Croatia, economic powerhouses such as Germany and France, and less developed European regions like Southern Italy.

If the proposed transcontinental URT pushes through, the train network could have a positive impact on the environment. According to experts, carbon emissions could be reduced by around four to five percent because the URT would lessen air travel among EU countries. The new system could also reduce road pollution because it has a bigger cargo capacity to transport freight.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the URT network would really be effective in helping European countries recover? Discuss.
• Once the URT is constructed, do you think airlines should discontinue flights that are covered by it? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What do you think are the pros and cons of easier cross-continental travel? Discuss.
• Do you think Asia should also build a new transcontinental train network? Why or why not?