Passengers board a GWR train at Paddington Station  in London
Countries such as France, Belgium and Netherlands can already be reached by train from the UK, thanks to Eurostar | Photo: AFP Reuters

Travellers from the UK who do not wish to take a flight can now head to several cities across Europe by train.

Countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands can already be reached by train from the UK, thanks to Eurostar, an international high-speed rail service in Western Europe.

The new plans will reportedly include direct trains from London to countries such as Germany and Switzerland. The Swiss National Railways (SBB) has proposed a new route between St. Pancras International train station in London, and Basel in Switzerland, reported Daily Mail. The route, which is expected to take five hours, will run through the Channel tunnel and use Eurostar trains.

Giving competition to Eurostar, Spanish railway firm Evolyn is planning to begin direct trains to Frankfurt, Cologne, and Zurich from London.

Holidaymakers from the UK currently need to use at least three train services to reach Basel with the total journey taking up to seven hours. At present, passengers from London take a train to Paris Gare du Nord, and travel by metro to the Gare de Lyon, where they can pick up a service to Basel. However, the new route would only require one train.

SBB's head of international passenger transport, Philipp Mader, confirmed the plans at the Swiss Travel Association conference. But concrete plans for the new route are yet to be confirmed.

"As a long-distance destination, we are looking into a direct train from Switzerland to London, the most frequently flown city in Europe. Basel to London in around five hours, that's possible," Mader said in an interview.

Even though the SBB are keen on a direct rail link between Switzerland and the UK, they are due to face multiple hurdles, including the capacity for additional Eurostar services.

A spokesperson from Eurostar said: "It is encouraging to see interest from the Swiss national railway in expanding their international train route network."

"We always monitor the potential for new routes, but our current focus is our extended network of European destinations following our union with Thalys," the spokesperson added.

The other hurdles in establishing new routes include infrastructure challenges in the Channel Tunnel and security and passport control checks at departing stations.

Apart from the Evolyn trains, there are believed to be several train lines that are set to challenge Eurostar, which has been the only provider of routes between London and Europe.

Virgin Trains, which ran for more than 20 years between 1997 and 2019 with the routes taken over by Avanti West Coast, could soon launch between the UK and Europe.