Super trains

What is “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”? The easy answer is “Superman”, of course, but if you’re willing to stretch your imagination a bit, the travel booking website Omio would give you an additional answer. In the article entitled, “These routes in Europe are faster on the ground than by plane” they looked at their 100 most popular routes and found 27 that would get you to your destination faster by using the rails. They also surveyed their customers to gather opinions about convenience, comfort, speed, and pollution generated by the various forms of transportation. Twenty-five percent of those questioned were willing to add up to an hour in travel time if that meant a significant positive contribution to the environment. The sample chart below, with a nod to France, lists some of those time savings.

Vintage French dining car from SNCF

When Bill and I take a train we walk from home to the station and carry our luggage directly to the platform where they ask you to arrive at least 2 minutes before the train departs. On the train we store our bags on racks above and/or behind us, sit in wide comfortable seats with plenty of leg room and typically enjoy food that we purchase onboard or a picnic that we’ve brought with us. At our destination we collect our suitcases and walk from the station to our hotel. Our time is spent traveling rather than getting to the departure point, waiting at check-in, security, the boarding gate, the destination baggage claim and then getting into a distant downtown. Clearly those are the factors that add up to the figures in the Minutes Saved column below.

RouteTrip duration in minutesMinutes Saved

There’s a link at the bottom of this page to a pdf of the full chart that will show, for example, for the Paris to Bordeaux route listed above that during the hour + you save in time you also generate 76% (99.8 kgs.) less CO2.

French sleeping car from SNCF

Additional good news for train travel comes both in the day and the night. Sleeper trains are making a real comeback across Europe with new routes being added annually. The map in green below shows the most popular overnight routes sold through Trainline. The other map is from the French cooperative Railcoop showing their planned routes that will give direct access between many stations that currently require a connection. While we enjoy spending time in  Paris we will welcome the chance to avoid having to change trains and stations there, crossing the city with luggage on the Metro.

Even when we lived in the US and vacationed here with limited time off from work, we still traveled by train throughout France and into the neighboring countries. We feel grateful that we can continue doing so and save some time in the process.

The photos above come from the SNCF (La Société nationale des chemins de fer français) Facebook page and their website SNCF Connect.

Omio time savings chart pdf

Sleeper train routes from Trainline
Railcoop through routes

4 thoughts on “Super trains

  1. All good news! Thank you for this. It’s wonderful that trains are making this sort of “comeback.” Now, if only there weren’t quite as many manif….recent personal experience with train cancellations on the trip to and from my daughter’s wedding meant an unexpected four hours of driving for us, and 9 hours for her German husband’s family (including his 93 year old grandmother.) Luckily, most of the time there’s a way around it but it can cause hardship if you really MUST be somewhere important. For me, it affects their reliability and if the next trip is not just a vacation, I’m less likely to take a chance, which is a shame, especially given what you’ve helpfully shown us today.

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  2. Thanks for this. Every week you publish something useful and fascinating. I’m creating a B&B (Bob and Bill) info list.

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    1. Thank you for saying that since it’s nice to know that the info is helpful. So, first we had your C list and now you’re compiling a B(&)B list so that just leaves a triple-A (AAA) list. Hope we make that one for sure!


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