Plans for direct trains from St Pancras to Germany and Switzerland

Trains from London to Europe could be expanded under proposed plans which would see new direct rail routes to Germany and Switzerland.

Swiss national railways (SBB) plans a new five-hour service between St Pancras and Basel using Eurostar trains while Spanish firm Evolyn wants to open a direct link to Frankfurt, Cologne, and Zurich, reported MailOnline.

The proposed new services come amid speculation of other rival services being planned, with Sir Richard Branson allegedly looking into operating services, and Dutch train start-up Heuro hoping to launch a rival service within the next five years.

Currently, rail passengers from London to Basel have to change to three trains, with the journey taking up to seven hours.

Passengers must take a train to Paris Gare du Nord, travel by metro to the Gare de Lyon, where they can pick up a service to Basel.

But under the plans, the new route could involve just one train as well as a single check through security and passport control at the departing station.

However, no specific timeframe has been given for the proposal.

The plans were confirmed by Philipp Mader, the Swiss Federal Railways head of international passenger transport, at the Swiss Travel Association conference.

Speaking at the event in November, Mr Mader said: “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.'

But he added that implementation would be tricky, saying: “The infrastructure is expensive on this route partly because of the journey through the Eurotunnel.”

Backing the idea was Swiss MP Matthias Aebischer, who urged the Swiss government to look at possible direct rail links between Basel and London.

He wrote in a letter: "There are already direct rail connections from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and even with cities such as Lyon and Marseille. It must therefore be possible to do this also for Switzerland, in particular with Basel.”

Eurotunnel’s owner, Getlink said last week that new direct high-speed train routes from London to Geneva and Zurich, among other locations, could be ready for in five years.

The shortest distance between London and Bern, the Swiss capital, is 464 miles, while the driving distance from one city to another is 616 miles.