On my way to the airport today, I passed a poster in Rotterdam Centraal station regarding Eurostar. I was in too much of a rush to read it and my Dutch was probably not up to the task even if I’d had the time. But an article in CityLab has just given me an inkling on what the poster may have been saying.
It seems there’s an Amsterdam to London high speed train on the way. The article talks about whether longer train rides could compete with short, budget flights. In my view? Absolutely!
Last year I took a 6 hour train trip to Rome over the Easter weekend and another 5-ish hour trip to Florence in Autumn. On both occasions, I travelled in first class. I was at the station about 5 minutes before my train was scheduled to arrive and, on the Trenitalia leg of service, has in-seat service that included a snack an a drink range that extended to prosecco. I read my book and, when I arrived in both destinations, I was 10m away from my hotel. Compare this to my flight out of Amsterdam last week when I queued in security for over an hour. Had I not taken the time to be there early, I would’ve missed my plane. Whilst the journeys may be longer in time, the total trip time is often not that greatly different.
I am sad that so many operators have discontinued their overnight trains as that is the height of efficient travel: waking up in your little cabin with a light breakfast and your destination waiting just beyond.
I have a friend who has a friend who, this Christmas, took a train from Zurich to Ireland, rather than the “faster” plane. She thought he was crazy. Personally, I would do the same if I had the time. Rail travel is gracious, calm, human, and you have a view. I have a 300km trip across the Netherlands next week and will be taking the rolling stock in preference to the stress of sitting in a car for 2.5h.
I yearn for the return of a railway service across Europe that can get you anywhere. Perhaps we will one day all get so fed up by the dehumanisation of the low cost carrier experience that we will put our money to making the railways more profitable. I am starting early!