Main line for Europe

Planned high-speed rail link Paris—Bratislava

The Main line for Europe (referred to as the Magistrale für Europa in German and Magistrale européenne in French) is a Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) project for the creation of a high-speed railway line between Paris and Bratislava, with a branch-off to Budapest. It was listed as TEN project No. 17 (Paris—Bratislava) by the European Commission in 1995, and is already under way.[1]

The project is planned to be completed by 2020. It will link 34 million people in five European countries. The overall length of the route from Paris to Budapest is 1,592 km (989 mi).


Parts of the route had been served by Orient Express trains, which ceased operations in 2009. Today TGV and City Night Line rail connections exist from Paris to Stuttgart or at longest Munich. The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) currently provide direct Railjet and EuroNight connections between Munich and Budapest.


Paris Gare de l'Est

The French part of the line is the LGV Est européenne high-speed railway. Its first section as far as Baudrecourt east of Metz has been in use since 2007 whilst the second section to Vendenheim near Strasbourg opened in July 2016.[2] The new railway line provides a maximum speed up to 320 km/h and reduced the travel time from Gare de Paris-Est to the largely refurbished Gare de Strasbourg to less than two hours.


In Germany the line follows the Appenweier–Strasbourg railway (Europabahn) from the Rhine Bridge to Appenweier and then the Mannheim–Karlsruhe–Basel railway (Rheintalbahn) down to Bruchsal. The Europabahn is built for a maximum speed of 200 km/h while the Rheintalbahn to Rastatt Süd is for 250 km/h. The second part of the new Rheintalbahn (Rastatt Süd to Bruchsal) is to be completed by 2014. At the Bruchsal Rollenberg junction the MoE joins the Mannheim–Stuttgart high-speed railway which was built for 250 km/h. Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof is to be rebuilt as a through station in the course of the—disputed—Stuttgart 21 project.

Demolition works on Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, 2010

In Stuttgart the line joins the Stuttgart–Augsburg new and upgraded railway (including the Stuttgart–Wendlingen and Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed railway lines replacing the Fils Valley Railway) which is expected to be completed in 2020 and will provide a maximum speed of 250 km/h between Stuttgart and Ulm and 200 km/h on the Ulm–Augsburg railway line. The Munich–Augsburg railway is being upgraded to separate slower traffic (freight and short-distance trains) from high speed trains, which will be able to reach 230 km/h. From München-Pasing station trains may run directly to München Ost without passing München Hauptbahnhof. Plans for the reconstruction of the Munich main station similar to Stuttgart 21 have been abandoned.

Trains from München Ost shall reach Salzburg Hauptbahnhof via the upgraded Munich–Mühldorf railway, providing a maximum speed of 160 km/h, and the Mühldorf–Freilassing railway line. In Freilassing the MoE joins the Rosenheim–Salzburg railway leading across the Austrian border including a new third track serving the Salzburg S-Bahn commuter network.


Vienna main station, 2012

In Austria, the Western Railway line is to be extended to reduce travel time between Munich, Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna to one hour each. The section between the Attnang-Puchheim rail hub and Wels Hauptbahnhof near Linz was already upgraded until October 2012 to provide a maximum speed of 230 km/h. Between Linz an Vienna a new parallel high-speed railway line (Neue Westbahn) for a maximum speed of 250 km/h is to be completed in 2015, including the Wienerwald Tunnel.

In Vienna, the former Südbahnhof terminal station was demolished and replaced by new Wien Hauptbahnhof. From here, trains run on the Eastern Railway line to Bratislava-Petržalka railway station, including a connection to Vienna International Airport. East of Vienna, a southwestern branch-off leads via Győr to Budapest.


Section Distance Opening Duration before1 Recent duration1 Planned duration1
Paris–Strasbourg476 km Paris–Baudrecourt 2007237 min110 min -
Baudrecourt–Vendenheim 2016
Strasbourg–Karlsruhe81 kma portion (Appenweier-Karlsruhe) is in use now 54 min25 min
Karlsruhe–Stuttgart90 km in use 61 min35 min35 min
Stuttgart–Ulm94 km today2019/20 54 min28 min
81 km new
Ulm–Augsburg86 kmnot before 2019 41 min28 min
Augsburg–Munich61 km2011 37 min18 min
Munich–Salzburg153 kmMunich–Freilassing 2015 87min62 min
Freilassing–Salzburg 2009
Salzburg–Linz127 kmSalzburg–Attnang-Puchheim 2013 64 min60 min
Attnang-Puchheim–Wels 2011
Wels–Linz 2015
Linz–St. Pölten130 km2015 48 min45 min
St.Pölten-Vienna44 km 2012 41 min25 min
Vienna–Budapest263 km 181 min
Vienna–Bratislavanorthern line 65 km2011 57 min35 min
southern line 80 km2013 55 min
Paris–Budapest1592 km 812 min (13:29)1 2634 min (10:34)1 2
Paris–Bratislava (northern line)1394 km 685 min (11:25)1 2 3488 min (8:08)1 2
Paris–Bratislava (southern line)1409 km 508 min (8:28)1 2
Paris–Munich875 km 484 min (8:04)1 2358 min (5:58) 1244 min (4:04) 1

1 It is calculated with the fastest possible durations between the towns.
2 Real duration is longer due to changing.
3 The time needed to travel between Wien Westbahnhof and Wien Südbahnhof is not taken in calculation. There will be no need to change after completion of Lainzer Tunnel and Wiener Hauptbahnhofs which is planned for 2013.
Source: annual report 2006/07 of Péter Balázs


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