Try the Train, Says Avanti's Harry Dalgaard
Photo courtesy of Eurostar
Avanti Destinations is encouraging Americans to rethink train travel when they go to Europe, saying train travel presents several advantages over automobiles or airplanes.
Americans don’t think of train travel very much because the country hasn’t built a national passenger rail system and very little of the country is connected by passenger rail. Americans tend to travel by car or airplane.
In Europe, however, there is a comprehensive rail transportation system. Travel by train is one of the easiest, most efficient, cost effective and comfortable ways to travel from place to place in Europe.
According to Avanti, rail travel is already highly popular with its customers. But many others would do themselves a favor by adding it to their set of possible choices.
“More than 50 percent of FIT multi-destination European itineraries booked by agents with us use rail,” said Harry Dalgaard, president and founder of Avanti. “You can’t beat the ease and comfort of Europe’s train system: no early airport check-in, much more seating and luggage space, no transfers to and from city centers, and of course the opportunity to relax and enjoy the wonderful scenery. When you travel by air, the clouds look pretty much the same everywhere. Rail travel just feels more authentic.”
Most Americans planning to visit London and Paris would assume that flying would be the best way to travel between the cities. A nonstop flight would last about an hour and 15 minutes. If you are taking a connecting flight the trip will take between three and four hours.
But that’s only the part when you are in the air. When you arrive at the airport you have to travel into the city. On the departure end you need to get to the airport, get checked in and go through security. Those things themselves can take hours.
So from city center London to city center Paris by air, you are talking about a trip of at least a few hours, possibly several hours. It can take a large chunk of your day.
If you travel from London to Paris by train, the ride is about two hours and 15 minutes. You leave from the city center and when you arrive you are in the city center and don’t have to find a way from the outskirts where the airport is to the city where your hotel is.
Some of Avanti’s most popular train routes are the Rome-Florence-Venice route; day trips between Florence and Pisa or Siena and Naples; the high-speed Eurostar between London and Paris; London-Edinburgh; day trips from Paris to Caen and Bayeux in Normandy; and Madrid-Barcelona via the high-speed AVE trains.
Last month a new rail option opened when the Eurostar began operating service from London to the south of France. The service operates Thursday through Monday. The new direct service make it possible to travel to Avignon, Lyon or Marseille without having to change trains in Lille or Paris.
The high-speed train connection between Paris and Barcelona that was inaugurated in late 2013 also presents opportunities. It’s especially attractive to pre- and post-cruise travelers.
For those making plans to visit Europe, here is a reference table of average times for train trips between various city pairs.
London-Paris — 2:15
Rome- Venice — 3:45
Florence- Venice — 2:05
Florence- Rome — 1:31
Florence-Siena — 1:28
Florence-Pisa — 1:00
Florence - Naples — 2:31
Rome - Naples — 1:10
Paris-Caen — 2:00
Paris-Bayeaux — 2:08
Paris-Barcelona (direct) — 6:15
London-Lyon (Eurostar direct) — 5:30
London-Avignon (Eurostar direct) — 6:18
London-Marseille (Eurostar direct) — 6:30
Madrid-Barcelona — 2:45
London-Edinburg: — 4:22
More by David Cogswell
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