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Can short haul flights be replaced by trains?

  • Anastasia

  • Jun 24, 2022
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There is an ongoing debate about replacing short-haul flights with international trains, but how do they compare? It is certainly relevant, as most major European cities offer a vast number of train connections already, and Europe’s high-speed rail network is set to grow 10% every year over the next decade.

A large percentage of passengers are willing to take more night trains, at reasonable costs, and many of the 250 busiest air routes in Europe offer a rail alternative. However, the plane remains popular also on these routes; in 2019, 1.48 million passengers flew between Munich and Düsseldorf: a train journey that takes approximately 5 hours. Additionally, 2.5 million people opted to travel by air between Barcelona and Madrid: where the train only takes 2.5 hours.

So how can you compare trains versus planes and determine the best choice for you or your travellers? We have outlined 4 criteria.

  • Environment – which option is more environmentally friendly?

The effect on our environment would be evident: a traveler on a train to Paris produces approximately 8 kilograms of the global warming agent carbon dioxide, whereas traveling by plane would produce 75 Kilograms. The winner here is clearly trains!

  • Routes: can you actually get from A to B?

31% of the top 150 European short-haul routes could be traveled by train in less than 6 hours. For example, Barcelona-Madrid is the busiest train route in Europe, offering 10,000 seats daily. However not all routes are fast or frequent enough. The direct train connection between Vienna and Budapest takes almost 19 hours and passengers would have to change at least five times. It can sometimes take multiple changes and a long time to get from A to B that would be a short journey by other means.

  • Speed: what is the actual time spent from A to B

Queuing is a feature of almost every stage of the airtravel: check-in, baggage drop-off, security, border control, gate waits and baggage collection. All this queuing can add 2 hours to the travel time (currently even more at some of Europe’s largest airports). Also, the airports are often located outside of business and city centres. Compare this to trains; for most routes there is no need to arrive at the station more than 15 minutes before departure, or having to wait for baggage check-in. You will also find most train stations to be closer to cities and business areas than airports. So flight time may be shorter, but don’t forget to compare the full travel time!

  • Travel comfort: train or planes?

On average, train travel gives passengers more space than other common forms of transport, including, of course, planes. Some trains are even trying to cater various fresh food options, as opposed to the limited, usually not so fresh selection onboard of aircraft. Additionally, train travel allows you to travel through different places and gaze out your window upon different landscapes. When it comes to comfort and especially leg room, the train certainly beats the plane!

Book trains on request with C Teleport

Train travel can be faster and cheaper, however this will depend on the specific route, even address, of your destination. Train frequencies and connections are growing, so it is worthwhile checking whether train connections are a viable alternative for your company’s travelers. 

C Teleport specializes in air travel but is also happy to help you book a train ticket; although we have not automated the booking process for trains, we are anticipating this growing need by assisting you by booking trains on request. Simply contact our friendly team via chat or email, and we will be delighted to help you! 

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