Paul has been passionate about travelling for 40 years and has visited many places around the world. UK born, he now lives in Florida.
As a seasoned international traveler, I have to say that trains are perhaps my favorite way of getting around. Many of the inconveniences and problems that I associate with flying or driving are often avoided when going by rail.
That's not to say that trains are always appropriate or practical—planes are much quicker over long distances, buses are usually cheaper, and driving is often essential in places where there is little or no public transport—but rail travel does offer many benefits when the circumstances are right.
10 Benefits of Train Travel
Here are what I consider to be the main positives of train travel.
- Extensive Options
- Just Jump On
- Enjoy the Scenery
- Environmentally Friendly
- Weather Delays Are Rare
- Comfortable and Relaxing
- Reliable and Fast
- Centrally Located Stations
- Timetable Options
- Eat and Drink
I explain each advantage in more detail below.
1. Extensive Options
It's typical for train schedules to have trains running at regular intervals, giving you lots of options for when to travel, especially when going between major towns and cities. Unlike planes, trains often stop at smaller places too, enabling you to visit and explore more places that are off the beaten track. Different ticket types give you options regarding the level of service that you require and how much you want to pay.
2. Just Jump On
Tiresome procedures such as checking in your baggage, negotiating numerous long lines and undergoing the extensive security measures that one finds in airports are typically avoided. Most of the time when you travel by rail, you just take your baggage to the station and get on the train.
3. Enjoy the Scenery
Apart from the brief periods when taking off or landing, flying often means that you are too high up to see the landscape in detail. Driving long distances can mean that all your focus is on the road if you're behind the wheel, often travelling along busy expressways where there is little to see. Trains are usually a much better way to experience the scenery. You can actually see the natural landscape, the buildings, people going about their business, and feel part of it.
4. Environmentally Friendly
Apart from cycling and walking, train travel is the most environmentally friendly form of transport. Although calculating exact figures can depend on multiple factors as this BBC article discusses, a journey by rail pretty much always results in less greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent trip by car or plane. Train travel is also a winner on environmental issues such as noise and air pollution.
5. Weather Delays Are Rare
Cancellations or delays due to adverse weather conditions such as flooding and heavy snow are relatively rare when it comes to trains. I've suffered far more problems when flying. Driving can also be much more sensitive to the elements, a heavy rainstorm can slow you down considerably, snow and flooding can close down roads completely. While trains are not immune from delays, the rail networks do tend to be pretty robust when it comes to weather events.
6. Comfortable and Relaxing
When travelling by train, I never feel trapped in my seat like I do when I'm driving, or on a plane. You can go to the buffet, or restroom, or just stretch your legs any time you wish. You can drink a beer, or a glass of wine. You are usually not as crammed together with other passengers as you are on a flight.
7. Reliable and Fast
While it's certainly true that I've occasionally experienced frustrating delays, train services are generally a reliable form of transport in my experience. Over time, rail journeys have also become faster and faster as the technology and infrastructure have been upgraded. Travelling city to city is now usually much quicker by rail than by driving, and often faster than flying (provided it's not long haul), especially if you include all the time taken in airport security lines, collecting baggage and traveling internally to different part of the airport.
8. Centrally Located Stations
Unlike airports which are often located many miles away from the cities that they serve, stations are usually centrally located, making them easier to access by car, taxis, bus, or subway. This can reduce overall travel time, and mean much less hassle. The nature of airports can also make them sprawling, so even when you are there, you can expend a lot of effort getting to the right departure gate, customs control, or baggage collection area.
9. Timetable Options
Unlike plane flights which which can be sporadic for many routes, train timetables often offer more frequency for the time of travel. Regular routes can have trains travelling two or three times an hour. Sometimes there are multiple route options, enabling you to take a longer but more scenic journey, if you are on vacation and desire to see some countryside.
10. Eat and Drink
Train travel gives you a lot of options for eating and drinking. Unlike in a plane where your options for buying the meals provided are often very limited and usually not cheap, trains usually make it easy for you to bring your own food and drink, and there is often a table. There are no security restrictions on things like liquids, so you can bring your own drinks, visit the buffet, or buy a snack from the trolley service. When driving, you generally end up having to make regular stops to eat or buy drinks, rather than just eating on the go. Train travel means no worries about alcohol too, you can have a couple of beers or a glass of wine, if you wish.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Paul Goodman