I’m on the move again. Back in Europe for a week, jam filled with meetings in three different countries. Yes, I had to fly from New York to get over the Atlantic (not convinced my family would have been too happy with me if I had said so long and boarded a boat over; see you in a month or so. Are there even boats to take?), but after this one flight, I’m happy to say it’s all trains.
Oh how I love trains.
It’s often worth to pay a little bit more for first class on trains in Europe: the extra cost is often minimal – so very far from the triple or more you have pay on business class on flights compared to economy – but you get plush comfy seats and get treated to food and drinks, newspapers and massages. Ok perhaps not massages, but at least you will have enough room to give yourself a discreet foot rub (socks on please!). You also get a general cleanliness and quiet atmosphere in first class, and toilets that are, well, at least acceptable. For the lot of us with limited budgets, for whom air business class is out of reach, on trains we can be those people who travel in style! Part of that gang!
There are tons of more reasons why choosing trains over flights for shorter distances makes sense. You see more. You don’t have to lose your temper in long lines. It’s most often cheaper and allows for more flexibility. You get from and right into the heart of cities right away. It’s more comfortable and more relaxed with rules (no one will make you flaunt all your private belongings for a frantic reshuffling of stuff in front of a line of people just because you were a bit over 23 kilos). It is also infinitely more romantic to travel on trains, particularly if you choose a scenic route. Plus, you can bring along wine, cheeses and real knives to cut it!
And don’t get me started on night trains – my kids’ best vacation ever was when we took a night train up to the north of Sweden and the part of us all snuggling into our little beds and falling asleep to the du-dum, du-dum from the tracks was a major part of the A+ experience.
The biggest silver lining is of course that you’re also doing nature a huge one. HUGE. Recent studies showed that taking the train from London to Paris instead of flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger not just by a measly 10% or 20% or even 50%, but by a staggering 90%!
That’s a lot. In fact, it might be even more than 90%. Planes emit their CO2 directly into the upper atmosphere, where it is likely to do over twice the damage of the same quantity of CO2 emitted at ground level. This factor isn't included in the quotes findings of 90%.
Regrettably, the US is a bit behind on making trains an affordable and good option to flights. This needs to change. Meanwhile, let us all use more trains in Europe.
Ps. If you want to compare emissions on trains, planes and cars, a good source is www.ecopassenger.org
Ps2. Train stations are often gorgeous too.