By 2011, when the whole section was equipped with new high speed track, the travel time of the was a fixed amount calculated according to a rate per kilometre.

Converted to the current kilometre charges of the Belgian, French and Dutch railways, a single ticket Paris-Amsterdam over the same route (the blue line) would now cost 66 euro, regardless of whether you buy it two months in advance or right before you leave.

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These heavily advertised prices, however, are the exception rather than the rule.

If you buy a single ticket the day of your departure, you pay €206, almost five times as much.

The , covered the 545 km long route in about eight hours. [1] During the subsequent decades, the rolling stock was modernised, the capacity of the line was extended with extra trains, and the length of the journey was gradually reduced.

By 1957, travel time had been shortened to five and a half hours, by 1971 it was five hours, and in 1995, the last year of its operation, the did the trip in four hours and 20 minutes.

As an example, let's have a look at the route which I cover most often: from Barcelona, Spain (where I live) to the Netherlands and Belgium (where I grew up).

It is now possible to travel all the way from Barcelona to Amsterdam by high speed train, a trip of 1,700 km.

You can still travel cheaply by low speed train between Paris and Amsterdam -- over the same route that was covered by the .

But you have to be very patient: the trip takes 7 to 8 hours and you have to switch trains 5 to 6 times (Paris-Maubeuge-Jeumont-Erquelinnes-Charleroi-Brussels-Amsterdam).

Quite a few of these services were even faster than today's high speed trains.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Article also available in French, Spanish and German.

A one-way trip costs €66, half the price of the most common fare of the It's an adventure, not a regular train ride.