Travel by rail – a better option?

How many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam or have taken the wrong turning in a country where your grasp of the language is poor and wondered whether you might have been better off taking the train? With a high speed rail network throughout Europe, rail travel has never been easier – it’s flexible, efficient and hassle free and what’s more, your carbon footprint is greatly reduced.

From city breaks, to skiing holidays, business trips or general site-seeing, there are a host of reasons why travelling by train is a great alternative to air travel or the car. Take Rail Europe’s overnight snow train as an example. Leaving London St Pancras on a Friday afternoon, you arrive in the heart of the French Alps the following morning, ready to hit the slopes that afternoon. With on board couchettes sleeping up to 6 passengers and even a sound proofed disco carriage, it’s the ideal way to travel, giving you the maximum time in resort as all your travel is overnight. Go to Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com) for timetables, fares and booking information.

With high speed services connecting major cities and local trains serving smaller towns and villages, you can travel far and wide within Europe with ease. For example, connections to the Italian rail network are available via Paris on day or overnight trains, and Italian high speed Eurostar Italia trains connect with regional and local services. The journey is breathtaking, taking you past lakes, mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. If you take a Eurostar service (www.eurostar.com), every wintersports destination is within easy reach, including the French and Swiss Alps, the Pyrenees, Italy and Austria. Eurostar now goes directly to Paris, Lille, Brussels, Calais, Disneyland® Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps. Journey times were cut by 20 minutes when the London terminal moved from Waterloo to St Pancras and you can be in Lille in an hour and a half, Brussels in just under 2 hours and Paris in just over 2 hours!

Air France recently announced that once the Eurostar franchise ends at the start of 2010, it will be launching a high speed rail service to Paris. This could result in lower fares for passengers and, according to Air France, quicker travelling times.

In 2007, a new high speed service from Paris to the east of France was introduced, slashing journey times by half. In addition to opening up beautiful areas such as the Champagne-Ardenne, it is also possible to travel onwards to Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg. So sit back, relax and let the train do all the hard work whilst you enjoy the scenery!

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