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This Is The Cheapest Way To Travel Around Europe According To New Report

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Who would’ve ever thought that plane tickets would be cheaper than train fares? 

I used to always think that trains were the most accessible and budget-friendly way to get around Europe. 

Without having to pay for checked luggage, a seat, and other amenities on the plane, I had assumed that the train would be the cheapest mode of transportation to navigate Europe. 

People boarding a RyanAir plane in Poland

We all have heard about the beautiful and easy train rides from London to Edinburgh, Paris to Barcelona, Amsterdam to Brussels, and more. 

As traveling can be expensive these days, what with the prices of hotels, airfare, transportation, and food, I had always thought taking trains was a good way of cutting unnecessary costs. 

However, a new report has confirmed that these days, it’s in fact the opposite, and flying is considerably cheaper than traveling by train. 

The Report Findings 

This report from Greenpeace, a Canadian independent global campaigning network, shows that long-distance trains in Europe are now nearly 30 times the price of flights. 

Conducted from April 25 to July 12 of this year, the report primarily focused on the 27 countries in the EU, excluding Malta, Cyprus, and Ireland.

 In order to see how the prices are affecting travelers flying or traveling by train, Greenpeace examined 112 European routes and compared different routes between 27 European countries on numerous dates and at different times of the day. 

On average, the study found that train tickets were approximately twice the price of airfare

The reason for this sudden exponential rise in price is that Greenpeace found that trains in the EU are required to pay a certain tax on kerosene, whereas airlines are exempt. 

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How is this affecting travelers? 

Greenpeace found that passengers have been paying approximately exorbitant prices when they could have paid 30 times less to fly on affordable airlines, which happen to operate on 79% of the 112 routes.

Commonly taken train journeys from the UK to Europe via Eurostar or other competing railway lines are now four times the price of flights. 

eurostar train

The Canadian organization found that the cost of airfare in comparison to train tickets was significantly lower on approximately 79 of the 112 routes analyzed.

With the mass influx of American tourists to Europe this summer, trains have been packed. In their report, Greenpeace claims that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed that “air traffic in Europe has returned to pre-pandemic levels.” 

busy london heathrow

In London alone, the number of passengers from the U.S. heading to Heathrow Airport has risen by 8% this past June in comparison to June 2019. 

The most expensive train fares can be found in the UK, Spain, France, Belgium, and Italy, which happen to be some of the top-ranking travel destinations for American tourists this summer. 

people walking in Brussels train station

While Greenpeace found that train fares were cheaper in Central and Eastern Europe, the train trips were not as speedy or smooth, with lengthy connections and fewer amenities available, in comparison to those made in Western Europe. 

The 23 routes in which train fares were cheaper than flights, unfortunately, come at a cost. Although you’re paying less for your train ticket as opposed to airfare, the study found that the routes often contained many connections that were not easily accessible. 

Train prices are skyrocketing as high as upwards of 300 euros, in comparison to airfares of just 13 euros through Ryanair. 

Ryanair Airplane Boeing 737-800

Travelers this summer are finding that another reason to hop on the plane instead of taking the train is that some train lines only allow passengers to make reservations months in advance, whereas low-cost flights via certain airlines can be booked at any time. 

While taking into account train transfers and connections and comparing them to the additional costs that can be incurred when flying, you will find that heading to the airport is your best option for getting around Europe this summer. 

To avoid the crush of the crowds and save yourself some money when visiting Europe, make sure to fly when making domestic or cross-border trips. 

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