Planes versus Rail

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Since Eurostar began operating, the demand for flights to Brussels and Paris has decreased. This year 9 million people will travel on Eurostar (less than half of what was estimated they could take) and it has lots of advantages. At least from London, it takes you from the middle of a city straight to the middle of another. You can carry more baggage. You don’t have the issue with what do you take as hand baggage and it takes roughly the same time or even less once you take into account queuing at airports, getting through immigration and passport control at both ends. Why does it only service Paris and Brussels when a number of other cities are easily within reach or a comparable time to flying?
“The Times” reports today that Deutsche Bahn (DB) the German state owned railway seems to be thinking the same. In conjunction with other state railways it operates a large number of long distance services. Over here, it owns Chiltern Rail, 50% of London Overground and EWS (the large goods service railway company.) Now it has it’s eye on buying the 33% stake that our government has in the holding company for Eurostar.
It plans, if successful, to operate new services direct to Amsterdam, Cologne and Frankfurt. But there are many cities within Europe that could be linked. Swiss ski resorts (taking skis on planes can be challenging which might be why the winter Eurostar services into the Alps are so popular), Luxembourg (very pretty but not considered as a tourist destination), Northern Italy and Denmark to name a few.
Any rail route where journey times are about the same time as it takes a flight must be welcome competition and a benefit to holidaymakers and tourists. So it will be interesting to see whether our government will sell its stake, and if it does, what will happen.

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