Why railway travel is making a comeback in Europe


LUXEMBOURG: On a rainy day in October, passengers getting down at Luxembourg railway station were forced to take a long detour out amid tight security and traffic jams.
The King and Queen of Belgium were returning to their country by train in a bid to promote concern about the environment.
“An increasing number of people are now choosing to travel by train rather than take short flights because of the impact it has on the environment and climate change,” said Romain Schwartz, Luxembourg for Tourism (LFT). Interestingly, Luxembourg will soon become the first country in the world to offer free public transport to all
‘Flygskam’ or ‘flight shame’ movement originated in Sweden in 2017 when singer Staffan Lindberg announced his decision to stop flying. Since then, it has spread across Europe, with the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg doing much to popularise the greener alternative to air travel.
At Rotterdam train station, waiting for a train to Paris, Vasudha and her husband Krishna Chaitanya said they prefer train travel while in Europe. “Apart from the fact that it is less taxing on the environment, it is also cheaper and more comfortable. It takes me just 15 minutes to reach the station to take a train but to fly I have to go all the way to the airport and that too a couple of hours earlier,” said Vasudha.
Eurail, for instance, gives access to an extensive network of more than 35 European railway and shipping companies across 40,000 railway stations, covering up to 31 European countries. All Eurail pass holders can also avail of hundreds of benefits and price reductions all over Europe.
Travellers can access discounts on European ferry routes, boat tours, hotel rooms, museum tickets, city cards and more. To make the experience more pocket-friendly for travellers, Eurail announced a permanent 37% discount on global passes in January.
“We have reasons to believe that sustainability is indeed playing a key role in the popularity of train travel. It is interesting to note that Scandinavian countries are showing the highest growth rates year on year when it comes to travelling on our train passes, with Sweden showing an impressive +80% in 2019 so far compared to 2018,” says Carlo Boselli, general manager Eurail and Interrail.
He adds that the trend is mirrored in customer behaviour as well. “At Eurail we are very conscious of the fact that the tourism industry plays a key role in the unsustainable impacts of travel. Therefore, we try to do our best, helping to drive the switch to sustainable travel. Together with the entire railway community, we strive to make travellers conscious of the fact that travelling by train means making a responsible choice, helping reduce the harmful impact that planes or cars have on the environment.”

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