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In Europe, where gasoline has always been expensive, highly developed national rail systems have long been a vital means of cost-efficient and comfortable transportation. With almost 138,000 miles (222,000 kilometers) of track making up today’s European railway network offers a safe, fast, convenient and reliable alternative to airplanes and cars. Eating up the miles across and between borders on modern high speed trains, carrying its passengers in comfort and style, rail travel in Europe is often considered a better alternative to the automobile or airplane. And for those with a concern for the environment, energy-efficient trains are also seen as the “green”alternative to fuel-guzzling, carbon emitting cars and planes.

European trains are marvels of high tech engineering, or they would not be able to compete with jet airplanes and the automobile. Todays high-speed trains average 150-186 mph, the TGV East even travels at speeds of up to 200 mph. London to Paris now takes only two hours 40 minutes (see Chunnel Train London to Paris); Paris to Lyon, two hours (see TGV High Speed France); Madrid to Barcelona, five hours; Frankfurt to Salzburg, less than six hours (see Germany Fast ICE Train). Comfort, services and amenities have kept pace with the times and far surpass most air and car travel. Air travel with its security checks, long lines, departure delays has become a chore, while on European trains, you need simply arrive at the station and board the train with your luggage up to minutes before departure, whisk you from city center to city center, often departing steps from a hotel. Forget cabs and shuttles.

Trains are rarely delayed by bad weather or mechanical problems, (though the very occasional transit strike can be a surprise). With frequent daily schedules, travel can be planned at a moments notice. If you miss one train, another will depart in 10 minutes, or every hour or two. European trains offer electrical outlets for computers, many of the fast long distance variety now have Wifi. Relax and watch the scenery pass, have a conversation, and arrive at the destination feeling refreshed and within walking distance of restaurants, attractions and hotels.


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