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ICE spells fast!
The new high-speed trains can take passengers from Kaiserslautern to Paris in a little over two hours. Courtesy photo
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The fast train: a new way to get to Paris

Posted 6/18/2007   Updated 6/18/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by John Thompson
Contributing writer


6/18/2007 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- We decided to do something different. The new high-speed German-French train system was scheduled to be introduced Sunday for the first time to the general public, so we booked a package deal for an overnight stay in Paris.

Everything about the trip was normal except for one key ingredient. The outbound train was the "old" version, and the trip back was aboard the new high speed model - a real-life before and after look at transportation history.

The difference was astonishing. The outbound trip, originating from Saarbrücken, took the standard four hours. On the way back, it only took one hour and 50 minutes to reach our destination, cutting the travel time in half.

Because it was the first time the general public could test the experience, there was a lot of press on board, and it was kind of exciting to be in the middle of the action. The atmosphere was buzzing with people talking about the speed, the feel of the ride, the service, the convenience and most of all the time saved.

There was a display between the cars acting as a speedometer, so we could see the acceleration in real time. At one point, the female conductor pointed out that the train had reached 350 kilometers per hour or almost 220 mph. We were told that the train needed 1.3 kilometers (over 4,200 feet) to come to a stop from this speed. This is longer than the landing roll of many large aircraft.

Just think of what you can do. Leave Kaiserslautern on the train departing at 8:05 a.m., arrive by 10:41 a.m. at Gare de l'Est in the middle of downtown Paris, spend the day, and catch the high speed train home on the same evening. The last one departs at 6:54 p.m. and arrives Kaiserslautern at 9:29 p.m. for a travel time of two hours and 45 minutes.

Think of the possibilities. Eat a nice breakfast while sightseeing on the train or while getting to know the Paris underground metro system before your arrival. When the train arrives in Paris, you are in the middle of the city with underground metro connections in the same train station. Hop on the metro and head to the Eiffel Tower for a great view of the "City of Love" as some people call Paris. Then head over to the Louvre to say "hi" to Mona Lisa. The beautiful Notre Dame is not far away. There is still time for lunch, some shopping on the famous Champs Elysées or the Rue Royal or a bus tour of the city. If the weather is nice, a tour boat on the Seine River would also fit in your schedule. No suitcase and no passport is required. All this and you can still be comfortably in bed at home at 10:30 p.m. on the same day.

According to Deutsche Bahn, most special tickets for €19 are sold out. There are some left if leaving from Saarbrücken in the afternoon or evening, and during the week. Regular tickets cost €75 one way. Visit www.bahn.de and www.parisinfo.com for details.



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