A Railjet Belgrade to Vienna service in 2011

New rail services are being introduced throughout Europe with the introduction of a new timetable in four week’s time (Sunday 14 December 2014).

In Britain, Liverpool and Manchester will benefit from better services following the completion of electrification on the route through Rainhill where, in 1829, Stephenson's Rocket emerged as the contest winner.

On mainland Europe, a new Lille-Geneva service is to be introduced, which will help passengers from Britain who have normally travelled via Paris to reach Geneva. Changing trains at Lille Europe will cut out the cross-city transfer in Paris. The new service will run four days each week in each direction and is timed to give good connections in Lille with Eurostar services from London St Pancras.

From Austria, a new direct daytime train will run from Vienna to Belgrade. With many stops, the new link wins no prizes for speed, but will be valued by many travellers.

There will also be a new direct service from Debrecen to Vienna, allowing residents of Hungary's second-largest city to make a day trip to the Austrian capital, spending six hours there.

The station at Vienna Airport (called Flughafen Wien) will be served by long-distance trains for the first time, with intercity expresses running from the airport to Linz and Passau. It will be possible to board one of these new services and travel direct to Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt and many other German cities.

Vienna will also benefit from a new direct daytime train to Poland's Baltic coast. The EuroCity service will take 11 hours from Vienna to Gdynia and also serve Gdansk and Sopot.

There will also be several new night train links. A new overnight train from Budapest to Sofia becomes the first long-distance train service to be routed via the New Europe Bridge, the new Danube river crossing which opened last year, between Calafat in Romania and Vidin in Bulgaria.

A new direct overnight train from Dusseldorf to Vienna, which will also transport cars, is planned.

Until now, the only direct Amsterdam-Brussels trains have been the high-speed Thalys services which require advance reservation. In December an hourly inter-city service is to be introduced which will serve both Amsterdam Schiphol airport and Brussels national airport.

The direct daytime EuroCity train from Prague to Warsaw will be restored in December. Recently, the only direct train between the two cities has been the overnight service. The new daytime train has a restaurant car.

Prague will be brought a little closer to Vienna with fast Railjet trains running every two hours, cutting 39 minutes off the existing journey time.

There will also be a new once-daily Marseille-Milan direct train serving the major resorts of the Côte d'Azur and the Riviera di Ponente. This new Thello train service will give a direct link from Marseille to Italian resorts without the need to change trains along the way.

Many other changes are made to local and regional timetables including some cross-border connections. The Czech town of Cheb will now have a thrice-daily direct train to Gera in Thuringia, and a once-daily direct train to Regensburg in Bavaria.

Looking further ahead into 2015, there are even more positive developments. In early May, Eurostar will launch a new year-round service from London to the Rhône Valley and Provence.

Information from: Hidden Europe