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As an example, let's have a look at the route which I cover most often: from Barcelona, Spain (where I live) to the Netherlands and Belgium (where I grew up).

It is now possible to travel all the way from Barcelona to Amsterdam by high speed train, a trip of 1,700 km.

Quite a few of these services were even faster than today's high speed trains.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Article also available in French, Spanish and German.

As more and more reliable train routes are shut down in favour of high speed lines, international train travel becomes prohibitively expensive.

Strangely enough, many of these abolished routes are almost as fast, and sometimes even faster, than the new, expensive high speed connections.

But you have to be very patient: the trip takes 7 to 8 hours and you have to switch trains 5 to 6 times (Paris-Maubeuge-Jeumont-Erquelinnes-Charleroi-Brussels-Amsterdam).

The , covered the 545 km long route in about eight hours. [1] During the subsequent decades, the rolling stock was modernised, the capacity of the line was extended with extra trains, and the length of the journey was gradually reduced.

By 1957, travel time had been shortened to five and a half hours, by 1971 it was five hours, and in 1995, the last year of its operation, the did the trip in four hours and 20 minutes.

The introduction of a high speed train connection invariably accompanies the elimination of a slightly slower, but much more affordable, alternative route, forcing passengers to use the new and more expensive product, or abandon the train altogether.

As a result, business people switch from full-service planes to high speed trains, while the majority of Europeans are pushed into cars, coaches and low-cost airplanes.

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