Travel involves so many choices – where, when and how to get there for starters. We’ve got “how to go” covered, and you can probably guess it doesn’t involve flying.
Travel centre to centre
Airports are often located far outside the city centre. For example, travelling from central London to Stansted Airport takes well over an hour and can be expensive. On the other hand, train stations are normally centrally located. Take the rail journey from London to Edinburgh as an example: it’s 4 hrs and 30 mins from Kings Cross station to Edinburgh Waverley station, both located in their respective city centres. If you add in travel to and from London and Edinburgh airport, flying isn’t any faster than taking the train.
Train travel gives you leg room
Our own research has revealed that taking the train gives passengers more space on average than other common forms of transport including, of course, planes. Kick back and get comfy because there’s more room on average than other forms of transport.
Avoid airport security
Airport security lines can be long and stressful, and that 2 hr pre-flight arrival adds significant travel time. Train travel wins the speed prize in this race. For most internal UK rail services, such as Edinburgh to London, there’s no need to arrive at the station more than 15 mins before departure. Eurostar check-in for passengers with Standard Class and Standard Premier tickets closes 30 mins before departure, whilst Business Premier passengers only need to check in 10 mins early.
Air travel is now one of the fastest growing contributors to climate change. The aviation industry is said to contribute between 4 and 9% of the total climate change impact of humans. This means that choosing not to fly is a powerful pro-environmental action that helps you shrink your carbon footprint.
Eurostar commissioned independent research that assessed the CO2 per passenger produced by a London to Paris Eurostar journey compared to a London to Paris flight. The research looked at Eurostar passenger loadings and power consumption, and how Eurostar’s electricity is generated. The research then compared these with aircraft loadings and fuel consumption. The staggering conclusion was that choosing the train over flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger by 90%.
The dining car
There are no salt-laden, half frozen airplane meals here. In fact, some trains in Europe have top class regional and local cuisine on board. In the UK, GWR serves top quality food in their ‘Pullman Dining Car’. Rail operators are increasingly trying to cater to various dietary needs as our ‘Veganuary’ research discovered.
Eat and drink from your own menu
On the other hand, if you don’t feel like spending money buying food on board, you can bring your own along. Travellers are always allowed to take their own pre-packed food and drink on board trains across Europe, so pack a picnic (Pro tip: don’t want to leave a pile of disposable plastic in your wake? Learn how in our top train travel hacks and packs).
Get free stuff with your train tickets
Loads of train tickets include hidden freebies and discounts in major towns and cities, so get clued up:
2-for-1 entry to hundreds of tourist attractions such as London Zoo, Madame Tussauds, The London Eye and many ore around the UK.
2-for-1 tickets for the best museums in Paris, Brussels, Lille, Lyon and Marseille with your Eurostar ticket.
25% discount for Venice museum pass for ticket holders for any of Italy’s high-speed Frecce trains
See more, learn more
Train travel can be a truly romantic and fascinating way to travel. Travel through different places and gaze out your window upon varied landscapes and culture. Castles, vineyards, villages, the Alps, Rhine falls. There’s so much to see and trains traverse all of it.
No flight-mode, reliable mobile phone coverage and almost all modern trains have plug-sockets at your seat. Many trains also now have wifi coverage so it’s easy to work, stay updated on social media and post live train selfies of your journey.
The tactical switch
If your neighbour is not your ideal travel companion, you have a better chance of switching to a different seat. When there’s unreserved seating on services that aren’t packed, you’ll often be able to move around as you please. There are also no seatbelt signs to keep you tied down.
Avoid those nerve-jangling movements associated with flying by staying on track.
Travelling with children is easy
Trains offer greater flexibility at each stage of the journey, making family train travel easier and less stressful than flying. Children can move around more freely than on a plane, and you’ll have the space to pack home comforts. Even better, many rail operators permit young children (up to four years old) to travel for free if they share a seat with an adult passenger. When you book with us, we’ll prompt you to enter the age of child passengers and automatically assign suitable tickets.
Breaking up your journey can be a real bonus
Heading to the south of Italy and fancy stopping over in Milan for lunch? Trains allow you to do exactly that. Stretch your legs on a walk around Paris or take in a museum in London, you can schedule convenient stopovers to make the most of your itinerary.
Baggage isn’t a bother
Riding the rails also means that you’re freer to pack what you want, as luggage restrictions are more flexible than on planes.
Trains are more pet and bike friendly
Indeed, it’s far easier to bring pets and bikes on trains than on planes, though you’ll need to check with your rail operator to be safe. Our help guides are a great place to start.
This article was originally published on Rail Europe.