1.They’re fast. If you think France’s TGV trains and the London-Paris Eurostar are the only high-speed rail routes in Europe, you are way behind the times. Europeans have been developing high-speed routes all over the continent for the past few decades. Depending on the route, high-speed trains in Europe travel 125 to 200 mph. Here’s a list of the major high-speed networks in Europe.
2. They can even be faster than flying. While jets are still a lot faster than trains, and thus more time-efficient for trips longer than about 600 miles, there are many city-pairs where it’s actually faster to take the train when you consider total travel time – i.e., getting to the airport early for heightened security checks; travel time to and from the airport instead of a city center train station, etc.
3. Intermodal connections can be very efficient. Some key gateway airports have built-in rail stations right next to or underneath the terminals where travelers can easily transition from air to train travel. At Frankfurt International Airport, for instance, travelers can connect to trains going all over Germany and beyond, including the nation’s high-speed ICE network. And French National Railroads has a TGV station at Charles de Gaulle Airport. You can get information here on all the major European airports with rail stations.
4. They’re comfortable. Seats are generally bigger than airline seats, with plenty of legroom – especially in first class. Many trains have bar/buffet cars; for first class travelers, meals and drinks are included in the ticket price, and may be served at your seat or in the bar/buffet car. Increasingly, European trains have on-board Wi-Fi. And you can sleep on some trains: For longer rail journeys, some routes operate overnight with trains that offer private sleeping cabins. Here’s a list of Europe’s night train.
5. They take you to the heart of town. Airport stations aside, European rail terminals are generally in the center of cities, so you can easily get to or from your hotel with a short cab ride. In fact, there are usually some hotels within walking distance.
6. Forget about delays. While a big storm can play havoc with airline schedules, trains keep operating through all kinds of weather. And they’re not subject to the kinds of air traffic control congestion that can disrupt on-time flight operations. In terms of operational efficiency, about the only thing that can (and sometimes does) disrupt train travel in Europe is a labor strike.
7. They can be quite scenic. You won’t see much of Europe from the air, but trains bring you up close to alpine vistas, dramatic forests, majestic rivers and other things to see through those big windows from the comfort of your seat. Here’s a list from Eurail of some of Euriope’s most scenic train routes.
Sometimes, the train is a more reasonably priced option. It might eliminate the need to rent a car. And hotels should be within easy walking or Uber distance, as they are in many famous cities, like Washington, DC, Seattle, Vienna, Munich, Tokyo, and London.