Rail travel is a popular way to get around Europe and the United Kingdom. It's fast, convenient and allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Here are twelve reasons why you should consider travelling by train.
Why Travel by Train?
Many trains travel at 300 km/h, allowing you to move between cities quickly and efficiently avoiding traffic congestion on motorways. What does this mean? Well, particularly in Europe, it allows more time to be spent at your end destination. Over a three week holiday this may mean four more hours at the Vatican City, three more hours at the Eiffel Tower or five more hours strolling through Venice. Travelling by train simply buys you more time!
No lengthy airport check-ins, down time, possible flight delays and cancellations. A great feature of travelling by train is arriving only 15 minutes prior to departure. Already there is a substantial saving of time opposed to flying where check in is required two hours prior to departure. Also once you’re at your end destination there is no need to be delayed waiting for luggage and arduous immigration procedures, you simply get out and generally stroll or take a short taxi ride to your accommodation.
Heart to Heart
Most railway stations are in the centre of the city which avoids expensive taxi fares getting from airports to accommodation. This once again saves time and allows more time exploring.
Easy Way to Budget and Plan
With no need to pay for motorway tolls, fuel or parking, a rail pass allows you to know exactly where you stand financially before heading off on your adventure.
Did you know? Driving between Paris and Nice return costs over $200 in motorway tolls?
There is no more relaxing method of travel than train travel. On a train you can you read a book, have a sleep, talk to the locals, move freely between carriages or have a drink in the bar. On many routes you can also hop on and off at towns along the way and catch the next train. (Subject to traveling in the same direction.) Driving, especially through Europe, can be mentally draining and stressful as you are continually referring to maps and trying to read streets signs in foreign languages.
Europe has over 250,000 kilometres of train tracks at your finger tips. Coupled with the frequency of departures (the Eurostar departs 16 times a day), you can always find a service that suits your needs.
The scenery from trains is absolutely spectacular and in many instances you are travelling through terrain which is not accessible by car or foot.
Taking a train in Europe is a very safe method of travel. When you consider the alternative of driving on the right hand side of the road in regions you have never laid eyes on before, you can understand why. In a northern winter, icy conditions also make for interesting driving for Australians who, as a rule, don’t normally experience these conditions.
Meet the Locals
In Europe, an average 93% of passengers on trains will be locals going about their daily life, be it to and from work or on their own holidays. Trains are a wonderful way to meet new people (including fellow travellers) and learn about their culture and country.
Travel Together and Save
Many rail passes offer a discount if you are travelling with two or more passengers. Rail passes are also good value for money as there are no high season prices and remain the same price all year round.
Senior and Youth Discounts
In most cases, seniors and youths are eligible to heavily discounted rail passes to further encourage rail travel by these two markets.
Travel at Night
Why not consider the option of travelling overnight on one of the many night train services? A range of sleeper accommodation from single or twin berth private sleepers to couchette carriages are available, offering excellent value-for-money beds for 3 to 6 people. Arrive refreshed and ready to explore a new city. Whether you choose to buy a rail pass or individual train tickets, you’ll have access to the easiest method of transport on offer.
NOTE: When you know your itinerary, always book seat reservations prior to departing Australia. Why? If you don't, you'll spend up to an hour in line at European railway stations purchasing tickets. If you are holding a rail pass, your discounted "pass holder fares" are also subject to availability, so snap them up in Australia before you leave home for peace of mind!
Article courtesy of Rail Plus (2011).
- More European rail tips and suggested itineraries
- Listen to our podcast about travelling by train in Europe