Green renaissance: How train travel is being revived across Europe

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Europe is home to a large number of top-tier tourist destinations. For years, travel in Europe was dominated by cheap flights. As airlines reduced their profit margins to compete for customers, travellers benefited from lower rates.

However, with the increasing number of cheap flights in Europe, environmental concerns also started to mount. According to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, aviation emissions contribute significantly to climate change. Aeroplanes utilise fossil fuels, which not only emit CO2 but also have significant warming non-CO2 effects due to nitrogen oxides (NOx), vapour trails, and cloud formation triggered by the height at which they fly.

Recently, various new train routes were introduced between European cities, and rail traveling on the Old continent seems to be booming once again. European countries are investing in trains in response to concerns about climate change, with the goal of making rail more enticing once again. More people than ever seem to be interested in discovering some of Europe’s best destinations by train, thanks to a rebirth in sleeper trains and fresh investments in high-speed rail lines across the continent.

In December last year, a new direct train line was launched between Paris and Vienna. The route connects the French and the Austrian capitals, stopping in Strasbourg, Munich, Salzburg, Linz, and St Pölten. It runs three times a week, departing around 8 p.m. and arriving at 10 a.m. the next day. Similarly, the night train between the Dutch capital Amsterdam and Zurich, Switzerland’s biggest city, was also launched in December last year. The Nightjet Zurich travels from Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Arnhem to Basel and Zurich via the Rhein-Ruhr region, departing on a daily basis.

Euro News reported last month that a new route connecting Paris and Berlin might open as early as December 2023. The Paris-Berlin high-speed service will begin with one train per day between the two capitals in the last month of 2023, followed by a new night-time service, with the journey taking approximately 7 hours.

At the same time, there will soon also be 6 new train routes from Amsterdam. In an effort to lessen its carbon impact, the travel company TUI announced they will be adding new train routes from the Netherlands to six European cities. This way, overnight trains will soon be available to travellers looking to enjoy Copenhagen, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Milan, and Florence.

International Railway Journal recently also reported that SJ, a Swedish train operator will run a daily Stockholm-Hamburg night train service starting from September this year, proving that train travel has truly made a return to all parts of Europe.

Rail travel is often regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation around the world. With countless connections and numerous sorts of passes to travel through Europe, the train is once again becoming the favourite form of transportation on the old continent. Rail improvements benefit citizens and businesses alike, while also supporting European countries and cities in meeting their ambitious climate goals set for the upcoming years. (photo credit: macrovector/Freepik)