I recently spent 14 days in Europe including rail trips between Florence and Assisi Italy, Assisi and Trento Italy, Trento Italy through the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck and Munich Germany and Munich Germany to Salzburg Austria.
I have several comments on European Rail that might be of interest to railfanners:
The mainlines are smooth, smooth, smooth. Almost no sideways or vertical jerking.
All of the mainlines outside yards and junctions have speed limits of 180 KPH and some of it 260KPH. There is an ongoing project throughout Europe to replace wooden ties with concrete. It looks as though the mainlines are about 70 percent completed.
The trains were clean and comfortable, whether in a compartment or a coach. Eating accomodations were not up to U.S. standards on most trains. Some long haul trains (EuroStar and EuroCity) had no dining facilities and those that did were very basic. Bring your lunch became our watchword.
The most startling observation was the country side and cities that we passed through. NO trash or liter, no junkyards, no run-down or abandoned high density housing! On the way to Europe, I took Amtrak from Baltimore Airport to Newark Liberty Airport and would never want one of my European friends to take that trip. I would be ashamed for them to see that America.
Lastly, rail travel is less expensive that in the U.S., even with the devalued dollar against the Euro.