I heart trains! It’s hands down the greenest way to travel – train travel releases 10 times fewer greenhouse gases per average passenger journey than flying. Here are ten more reasons why train travel is the antidote to everything I hate about airports, flying and long car journeys.
1. Trains are faster than most short-haul flights, when you take into account the time spent getting to and from the airport and going through security.
2. Railway stations are generally in the center of town – ideal when you arrive in an unfamiliar city and need to find your way to the hotel.
3. Any security checks are less cumbersome than airport security. You don’t have to get there more than half an hour early at the most and you can pack your water – or that bottle of wine you picked up on your holiday.
4. There’s usually plenty of room on board to stretch out and you are free to get up and walk around.
5. You don’t need to keep your eyes on the road, deal with unruly passengers or share the road with pig-headed drivers. Instead you can read your book, do the crossword, call your friends, or just look out the window and watch the world go by. Sometimes there’s even free wifi on board.
6. It’s fast. While US rail network Amtrak could do with a bit of TLC, I’ve still found it a reasonable way to get from New York City to Washington DC, and from Seattle to Vancouver. In Europe, it’s a different story – the continent is crisscrossed with high-speed services. Even in the UK, where rail services are generally less reliable and fast than elsewhere in Europe, it beats the rat race on the overcrowded motorways. For example, it takes just over two hours to go from London to York by train, compared with five or six hours by car.
7. For longer journeys, there are usually sleeper services on offer for a reasonable price, so you can go to sleep and wake up in a new place. It costs a lot less money than a flat bed seat in a plane or a hotel for the night on a road trip.
8. The pricing structure is transparent, especially if you book online and can see all the options laid out before you. Tickets usually go on sale 90 days in advance (120 days in the case of the Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels) and the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. It’s worth making sure you book a seat as well as a ticket in case the train is full.
9. It’s possible to go almost anywhere in the world if you have the time – The Man in Seat 61 shows you how.
10. The train can be is more than just a way to get from A to B and can be part of the holiday itself. The website Luxury Trains has a few appealing suggestions – how romantic and luxurious would it be to see Europe from the comfort of the gorgeous old-time Orient Express? Or if you’re hankering after the Australian outback, there’s a new service operating from Adelaide to Darwin called the Ghan and Platinum service sounds quite wonderful.