For many, the train travels in Europe have become just as beloved as the destinations. The grand stations that hum with activity and hold surprises around every corner, the distinctive “chimes” that jingle overhead signifying a passenger announcement, the dining cars, the views, the thrill of catching your train at the last minute: they all come together to make traveling by train here an amazing travel experience.
While there’s no doubt that part of the allure is rooted in nostalgia for the era of the original Orient Express and its elegant counterparts, all indications are that we are now zooming towards a new golden age of continental rail travel.
And that’s a great thing for both travelers and travel advisors.
Whether it’s rail’s rock-solid “green” credentials and the corresponding media attention behind the stir or simply the fact that travelers the world over are catching on to the fact that that rail offers a more authentic experience with fewer hassles (when was the last time you saw a video of an angry train passenger?) than other modes of transport, the momentum is undeniable.
The following are just a sampling of recent rail developments:
Night Trains Awaken
After years of decline and dwindling options, sleeper trains are back on track. The Austrian state railway, OBB is re-invigorating their Nightjet line with a new Brussels-Vienna sleeper (launched January 2020), an overnight link between Amsterdam and Austria (later this year) and investment in scores of shiny, new sleeper trains set to hit the tracks in the near future. In Britain, 2019 saw the arrival of the newly upgraded Caledonian Sleeper, which links London and Scotland. In addition, countries like Switzerland and Sweden are also discussing adding additional trains to Europe’s nocturnal rail repertoire.
Sleeper trains save travelers money on hotel stays, offer a truly unique adventure and also save sightseeing time the next day because you don’t have to spend half your time transferring between Point A and Point B.
Eurail Accelerates Its Growth
Fresh off celebrating its 60th birthday last year, Eurail is showing no signs of slowing down and has kicked off 2020 with the additions of Estonia and Latvia to the program, bringing the total of participating countries to 33.
The entire Baltic region is now covered by the Eurail pass, further opening the charms of this relatively undiscovered area to rail exploration. In the Baltics, travelers will find fairytale old towns, rich local culture and a hauntingly beautiful coastline. Like in other parts of Europe, Eurail pass holders will also be entitled to perks here, like up to 50% off the price of ferry crossings between Latvia & Estonia and places like Finland, Sweden and Germany.
In addition, the popular private railway line Thello, which operates routes between France and Italy, is also now also included in the Eurail pass. Like on other sought-after routes, travelers will simply have to pay a reservation fee in order to hop on board with their pass.
A new low-cost, high-speed train line called AVLO is set to connect Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza come April, while spring will also see the first trains to travel directly from Amsterdam to London.
Previously, travelers had to stop in Brussels in order to clear customs, but as of April 30th, that process will be taken care of in Amsterdam. The journey between the two European hotspots will be approximately four hours. Shortly thereafter, there will be a direct service added between stylish Rotterdam and London.
You can expect much more where this news came from, as you can bet on a forthcoming competition between European rail providers to provide the best services and connections to customers, a contest that makes all train passengers winners.
If you are a travel advisor, now is the time to talk to your clients who are heading to Europe about rail’s renaissance and how it can help make a trip here extra special.