Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Travelling in Europe: by train or by car?

We were just talking with some friends the other day about the high prices of train tickets in Europe.

The conclusion was that, as a general rule, in Europe is much expensive to travel by train than by car.

And the situation is more absurd if you think that train was supposed to be the main (or the only) means of transportation for the poor.

Here below there are some comparisons between the prices of train tickets and the cost of going by car.

To keep things comparable, we looked for a round trip during this week-end for 2 adults for distances of approximately 160 km:


Trier - Bonn. Train costs EUR 108, while car costs only EUR 26


Metz - Strasbourg. Train costs EUR 92, while car costs only EUR 54 (out of which you can save EUR 24 if you decide to avoid the highway and take the national road. That would increase your journey time by an hour)


Milano - Verona. Train costs EUR 32, while car costs EUR 42 (out of which you can save EUR 17 if you decide to avoid the highway and take the national. That would increase your journey time by an hour)

Italy is apparently one of the few countries in Europe where it is actually worth taking the train.


Valencia - Albacete. Train costs EUR 89, while car costs EUR 30


Arlon - Charleroi. Train costs EUR 78, while car costs EUR 27


Maastricht - Utrecht. Train costs EUR 47, while car costs EUR 28

Of course, one could argue that we did not include in our comparison a proportional part of the costs of owning a car (purchase cost, insurance, maintenance, etc.). And that would be true.

At the same time, one would have to consider that we did not also include the additional costs of transportation from the railway station to the final destination (hotel, family, etc.). This would also increase the total cost of transportation (bus, light train, subway. Taxis excluded, as they would kill the budget).

And this is only one of the reasons we never take the train. Others would be:
- the car is much more comfortable than the train
- you can stop when you want, where you want
- you can leave home when you want and come back when you want



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