Increased security measures at airports, long queues as a result of increased security and the rising costs of air travel could make business travellers think twice about taking to the skies.
While train travel has always been popular in Europe, it’s not always the obvious choice for South African travellers who are used to domestic flights. But, with ticket sales now open on Eurostar’s new London to Amsterdam route, there is definitely merit in considering taking the train on your next business trip in and around Europe.
Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) figures show that an average of four million passengers a year fly between London and Amsterdam, making it one of Europe’s busiest air routes. The new service by Eurostar is challenging established airlines on the route by targeting potential customers through speed and efficiency, cost, and plays on the environmentally conscious travellers saying that a London-Amsterdam Eurostar journey emits 80% less carbon than the equivalent flight.
But, not all train journeys are quicker than planes. There are more factors to consider that could be more beneficial to the business traveller than purely saving on flight times:
TOTAL JOURNEY AND CHECK-IN TIME
While a flight between London and Paris takes roughly 75 minutes, compared to a Eurostar journey of two hours 20 minutes, it is essential to look at the bigger picture. You need to consider the time spent at the airport, clearing security, checking in and waiting to board.
Instead of queuing along an aerobridge to pass through a single door, you line up along the platform according to the carriage number on your ticket, cutting out the stop-start nature of boarding a flight.
If money is a considering factor more often than not fares can be up to a third cheaper, on rail than on plane travel.
Also taking into account, flight costs can fluctuate almost hourly, whereas your train fare is pretty consistent no matter what day you book. While some increases may occur (particularly at peak times or over the holidays) and occasional sales may be available, you can usually count on the stability of train fares.
It is also good to keep in mind that while many long-haul trains require reservations, many short trips don’t, so you can purchase a ticket for the very next train, without paying inflated last-minute fares.
CONVENIENCE AND RELAXATION
If you’re a well-seasoned road warrior, you’ll know plane travel is really becoming less convenient and relaxing. Instead of flying economy with barely enough leg room, commuting via train allows you more comfort and space.
If you need to catch up on some office work or important emails, most modern train operators now offer plug points to charge electronics and as well as Wi-Fi. If you are looking for some added luxury or quiet time, operators such as Eurostar also provide class travel, wherein higher classes you can look forward to adjustable seats, lounge access, flexible tickets and a hot meal.
The convenience of travelling by train, especially from a business travel perspective is that most major train stations are located in the heart of the cities they serve. Instead of taking a potentially expensive airport cab ride located far outside of town, you can step off your train and be just moments from your hotel, or your next meeting.
- While train travel is definitely coming into its own, especially in Europe, it may not always be the best option, so set your limits. Distances are often too great, and on many routes, connections are simply too poor. To check on the most convenient connections visit, click here.
- Allow for extra time when transferring trains and navigating your way through larger train stations.
- Train-lag, as much as jet-lag is a real thing. Make sure you get enough rest and stay hydrated throughout longer journeys or crossing different time-zones.
- Also similar to air travel, pressure changes on mountain trains when you pass through tunnels and change in altitudes can be uncomfortable. Try invest in some decent earplugs or travel in a carriage with windows that open, so the pressure changes aren't so extreme. Motion sickness is another common train ailment, particularly as you can't always book forward-facing seats, bring travel sickness medication.
For many travellers, the novelty of air travel has now moved to rail and has less to do with money spent, but more about the convenience and experience of travel. Speak to your FCBT Account manager for options on navigating your business travels through Europe.