Three key countries in Central Europe: Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic have signed off on a new treaty that promises faster connections on existing lines and a basket of new high-speed lines, along with a 30-kilometre tunnel that will cut hours off routes between Vienna, Prague and Berlin.
The so-called Via Vindobona Treaty's provision include the tunnel through the Erzbebirge mountain on the German-Czech border, a high-speed upgrade on the Nordbahn line that links Vienna to the Czech border, and a series of high-speed lines that will link Czech cities within the country.
The tunnel had already been agreed in a previous negotiation last year. One of the first steps of the new plan, the Nordbahn upgrade is promised to start next year; the tunnel will take ten years or more to complete. The Czech high-speed lines will run at speeds similar to France's TGV network.
When all is done, Berlin to Vienna could be down to four hours, while the fastest current route is eight. Berlin to Prague would be down to about two-and-a-half hours.