25 reasons why trains are better than planes

1. No-one comes round trying to flog you overpriced goods

Train travel is a largely uninterrupted experience. Go by plane and you'll inevitably be required to decline the offer of overpriced food and drink, duty free goods and even in-flight scratchcards.

2. Or to nag you about having your tray table stowed...

...your seatbelt fastened, your window blinds open, your laptop off or you headphones out.

3. You get spectacular views

Yes, views from planes can be pretty amazing but, unless you've got a window seat, you'll need to crane your neck just to see a tiny portion of the horizon. And once you're above the clouds it's all pretty repetitive.

4. A top-notch sleeper service costs far less than a first-class plane ticket

Even on the most luxurious trains. Japan's Seven Stars, for example, costs around £880 ($A1709) per person for a two day/one night trip coasting through the lush landscape of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Compare that with the cost of a first class flight from London to Tokyo - almost £5,000 ($A9709) with British Airways.

5. You get a sense of the country

Advertisement

Hopping by air from one city to another and it's hard to get under the skin of a destination. Crossing a country - or a continent - by train, is a journey through its landscapes and, as Hemingway said, it is the journey that matters.

6. You can skip the hell of airport security

The airport experience is essentially a series of queues punctuated by requests to remove your belt and be patted down by a burly man. It's no wonder that a 2011 report suggested negotiating one was more stressful than moving house. Security queues are most travellers' pet hate about airports.

7. You can bring your own water and proper size toiletries - and avoid getting ripped off at the airport

There are numerous ways that airports try to fleece you, from ridiculous currency exchange rates and charges for the plastic bags we must use to take liquids through security (step forward Luton Airport) to a variety of taxes and "development fees" (thank you Blackpool, Norwich and Newquay Airports). Then there's the exhorbitant cost of bottled water and mini toiletries. Thankfully the 100ml liquids rule doesn't apply to rail travel.

8. The seats are comfier (usually)

Plane cabins are already cramped, and new aircraft currently being built look set to further narrow the margins. Unless you're riding a budget service in the developing world, you'll have far more sprawl space on a train - and unlimited opportunities to stretch your legs.

9. You might even end up in a classy lounge suite

Such as the spacious living quarters found on South Africa's Rovos Rail.

10. If your neighbour is annoying you, you can usually find a new seat

Empty seats, a rarity in the sky, are commonplace on trains.

11. Or head to the dining car

On flights, in-flight bars are reserved for business- and first-class guests. On a train, everyone can mingle over drinks.

12. You get to travel on stunning routes

Such as the Tren a las Nubes ("Train to the clouds") in Argentina or the Nariz del Diablo ("Devil's Nose") in Ecuador. You can even ride on top of the carriage.

14. Trains are less polluting

According to a 2009 report, if you were to take an average domestic flight rather than a high-speed electric train, you'd be personally responsible for 29 times more CO2 emmissions.

15. They're safer

Yes, air travel is very safe. But in terms of fatalities per journey, trains win.

16. Lost luggage is (virtually) unheard of

There's an airport in Japan that has not lost a passenger's bag since it opened in 1994. It is the exception that proves the rule.

17. And you can bring as much as you can carry

Unlike airlines which charge an arm and a leg for anything over 15kg.

18. You can turn up a few minutes before departure

Rather than two hours before it. And if you miss one, there will often by another one along shortly.

19. Train stations are far more beautiful that airports

Anyone that has found themselves in Grand Central Terminal in New York, for example, can vouch for this. And then there is the futuristic station at Kanazawa, in Japan's Ishikawa Province.

20. Train stations are generally in the heart of the city

And not 80km from London (like London Southend Airport), 107 kilometres from Munich (like Munich West Airport), or 120 kilometres from Oslo (like Oslo-Torp Airport). And you won't have to pay an extortionate fare such as the Heathrow Express - which, at £21 ($A40) for a single, is pound-for-pound Britain's most expensive rail journey, clocking in at around £1.40 per mile.

21. There's often an old-fashioned charm about them - particularly if it's a steam train

And kids love going on trains - it must be all those Thomas the Tank Engine books.

Additionally:

22. There is no turbulence on trains

23. You won't make men like Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, any richer

24. You can usually charge your phone

25. Train travel is romantic. You could fall in love - Brief Encounter wouldn't have worked on an EasyJet flight

The Telegraph, London

Comments