Friday, July 06, 2007

A Resurgence of Europe Train Travel?

If you’re anywhere near as fed up with air travel as we are, consider taking the train. Obviously, we’re not talking about the U.S. here, but Europe. The Paris-based International Herald Tribune reports that rail operators from the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgian are developing a new rail alliance called Railteam.

The system hopes to have an on-line ticketing site available by 2009. The Trib reports that already, “Eurostar, which runs trains from London to Paris and Brussels, said it saw a 39 percent jump in the first three months for tickets that connect to French high-speed services that bring travelers to the Mediterranean and the Alps.”

By 2009, we wouldn’t be surprised to see prices competitive with some European air travel. And after you factor in fewer luggage hassles (you have lots of room and convenience on the trains), scheduling convenience (if you miss one train, just get on the next), lots more personal space (no cramped 31-inch seat pitch), easier terminal access (the train stations are often in or near city centers, not out in the countryside), and simplified security (no hours-long waits), rail may again become the way to travel in Europe.

Take a bottle of wine (try that on a plane), a baguette sandwich, some cheeses. Actually see the countryside you’re traveling through. Have room to get up, walk around, socialize. We wouldn’t be surprised to see overseas air travelers re-configuring their air arrangements so that wherever they land it’s more convenient for making train connections.