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Trains in Europe

Stay grounded: Faster than flying, better for the planet

It can be a common perception that taking a flight is the fastest way to get from A to B. There’s no doubt that flying can be a quick and efficient way of traveling. But it also has a significant impact on the environment. When you look at the end-to-end journey time, it’s not always as quick as it seems: just think about the time wasted waiting in line at check-in, at security, as well as the times you’ve had to wait to board or to pick up baggage.

The good news is: traveling by train or bus can be just as fast as taking a plane. Another advantage is long-distance trains and buses in Europe are modern, comfortable and well-equipped with WiFi, outlets and refreshments. And then there’s the much bigger baggage allowance!

We have identified 25 routes in Europe from the 100 most popular, where taking a train or bus is quicker than flying. Here, we’ve calculated the CO2 saving possible by switching wings for tracks or road. What more could you ask for?

Ground rules: 25 routes that are quicker by train or bus

Route Saved time*
train/bus
vs. flight
Saved CO2 (kg)
train/bus
vs. flight
1 London - Brussels 188 -30
2 Paris - London 181 -32
3 Rennes - Paris 149 -29
4 Rome - Florence 135 -22
5 Paris - Bordeaux 128 -46
6 London - Leeds 114 -25
7 Paris - Marseille 110 -62
8 Valencia - Madrid 108 -28
9 Paris - Lyon 107 -37
10 Manchester - London 104 -24

* Travel times and time saved are calculated in minutes.

Complete ranking

Route Saved time*
train/bus
vs. flight
Saved CO2 (kg)
train/bus
vs. flight
11 Paris - Nantes 99 -32
12 Rome - Bologna 98 -28
13 Seville - Madrid 89 -36
14 Stuttgart - Paris 81 -47
15 Paris - La Rochelle 81 -37
16 Rome - Naples 78 -22
17 Málaga - Madrid 75 -39
18 Rome - Pisa 74 -25
19 Madrid - Barcelona 73 -47
20 Paris - Brussels 66 -30
21 Vienna - Budapest 57 -25
22 Brussels - Amsterdam 39 -20
23 Munich - Frankfurt am Main 38 -28
24 Vienna - Salzburg 35 -23
25 Valencia - Barcelona 10 -35

Click here to get access to the full routes included in the research.

How the ranking works

Omio researched all European routes included in the ranking. The ranking is based on the 100 most popular routes for trains, buses and flights booked on Omio during summer 2019 (15.08.-30.09.2019).

Ranking factors

  1. Total flight duration: the overall journey time in minutes, including time for check-in and security checks, mode transfers and arrival/departure to/from the city center.
  2. Train/bus duration: the duration of the fastest routes found via Omio.com.
  3. City center-airport-city center: the time needed to reach the airport from the central train station.
  4. Duration of switch: the time needed to switching to/from various transport modes, when traveling to/from the airport.
  5. Check-in time: time needed to complete the check-in process. For domestic flights, we used an average of 60 minutes, for international flights an average of 90 minutes. For flights that go to/from a country that is not part of the EU, we used an average of 120 minutes.
  6. CO2 in kg for train/bus/flight: The calculation is carried out according to the principles of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and on the basis of emission factors from scientific databases (e.g. ecoinvent) via Climate Partner.

Stay on the ground: Get there with Omio

Inner City Transport

 

First-class vs second-class train travel in Europe

Most train companies in Europe have two classes, first and second. Second Class is the cheapest option—think coach class in the United States—and offers comfy seats and in some cases, free Wi-Fi. If you want to guarantee a peaceful journey look out for quiet carriages, available in second class at no extra cost.

First Class is the more expensive option but affords guests comfier seats, larger tables, charging outlets, free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and drinks and access to lounges. Many train companies will offer last-minute upgrade deals to 1st class so it’s always worth double-checking!

Ready to go? Get there with Omio



Trains in Europe

Most Popular Train Routes
Train Companies In Europe
Train Travel in European Countries
Trains: FAQS

Trains in Europe are a fast, safe and efficient way of traveling around countries and across the continent. Train travel is one of the most popular choices for locals and visitors alike thanks to trains being clean, modern and fast.

Train companies in Europe vary from country to country with some companies crossing into neighboring countries. Most train companies in Europe are state-owned, meaning there’s one main train company providing the routes throughout a country, occasionally with smaller regional companies running some local routes. The biggest exception to this is the UK, where train companies are privatized meaning there are multiple companies serving routes across the country.

Furthermore, all countries have committed to high-speed trains across Europe. Many routes, particularly across borders can be done within a matter of hours. These routes include London to Paris and Amsterdam to Brussels. For longer journeys, night trains can be considered. Although they were once more popular there are still some night trains that run throughout Europe.

Explore several countries in Europe by train

Europe by train can seem overwhelming but, in reality, it is often easier and faster than flying! With train tracks stretching the width and breadth of Europe, getting around by train is an enjoyable way to see the continent. With lots of different ticket options allowing for travel in several countries, getting around by train is as easy as your daily commute. From London to Paris, Berlin to Amsterdam and Prague to Budapest, discovering Europe by train is an unforgettable experience.

Trenitalia
Trains from Rome to Florence
Renfe
Trains from Madrid to Barcelona
Trenitalia
Trains from Barcelona to Madrid
Trenitalia
Trains from London to Paris
Trenitalia
Trains from Prague to Vienna
Trenitalia
Trains from Paris to London
Trenitalia
Trains from Rome to Venice
Trenitalia
Trains from Florence to Rome
Trenitalia
Trains from Paris to Amsterdam
Trenitalia
Trains from Milan to Venice

 

Train Companies in Europe

Everything you need to know about European Train Travel

Taking the train is a great alternative to flying in Europe: seats are generally spacious and comfortable, boarding avoids the long waits at airport security, and it lets you view the picturesque landscapes of the regions you travel through - from the snow-tipped Swiss Alps to the rolling green hills of Spain’s Basque Country. Additionally, most main train stations in Europe are located in the city center, saving you potentially expensive cab rides to and from the airport.

Train service, speed, and prices vary considerably depending on country; Western Europe tends to operate more modern, high-speed trains, while Eastern European trains can be less frequent but also tend to have far cheaper ticket prices. Train ticket prices can fluctuate considerably, so it’s best to book your train tickets as far in advance as possible.

Train Companies in Europe


ÖBB: ÖBB or Austrian Federal Railways is Austria's national train company. In addition to numerous cities in Austria, ÖBB also travels to select destinations in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.


Westbahn: Westbahn operates one train route between Vienna and Salzburg. Westbahn trains run every hour and stop at Wien Westbahnhof, Wien-Hütteldorf, St. Pölten Hbf, Amstetten, Linz Hbf, Wels Hbf, Attnang-Puchheim and Salzburg Hbf.


SNCB: In addition to servicing domestic destinations, Belgium's national train company also operates 4 high-speed international train routes: from Brussels to Paris Nord or Lille Flandres train stations in cooperation with SNCF; from Leuven to Ans; from Liège to the German border; and from Antwerpen-Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal train stations.


České Dráhy: Often abbreviated ČD, České Dráhy is the Czech Republic's main train company. České Dráhy operates both regional and long-distance train routes throughout the Czech Republic.


SNCF: SNCF operates all of France's national rail services including the high-speed TGV network. More than 800 high-speed SNCF trains depart every day. SNCF’s TGV trains carry over 100 million passengers every year.


Deutsche Bahn: Germany's national train company is the largest in Europe, transporting approximately 2 billion passengers per year. Deutsche Bahn's high-speed Intercity-Express (ICE) trains connect major cities in Germany as well as some select international destinations in Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, Denmark and the Netherlands.


Italo: Italo is a privately-owned high-speed train company that connects 16 train stations in 13 Italian cities. Italo operates 3 high-speed train lines through Italy: from Verona to Naples (via Bologna, Florence, and Rome); from Venice to Salerno (via Padua, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples); and from Turin to Salerno (via Milan, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples).

Trenitalia: Owned by the Italian government, Trenitalia is Italy's main train company. Trenitalia offers both regional and long-distance routes as well as international connections to select destinations in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.


NS: Nederlandse Spoorwegen or NS is the main train company in the Netherlands. NS runs 4,800 domestic trains in the Netherlands every day, serving approximately 1.1 million passengers.


Renfe: Renfe Operadora is Spain's national train company. Renfe's high-speed AVE trains travel up to 350 km/h and connect Madrid with other major cities in Spain including Seville, Barcelona, Valencia, Toledo, Cordoba, and Malaga.


SBB: Swiss Federal Railways (or SBB) is Switzerland's national rail company and operates the majority of national and international train traffic. SBB also operates international EuroCity and EuroNight trains in Switzerland.


SJ: SJ is Sweden's main train company, which has been around for over 160 years. Over 130 000 people travel with SJ from over 275 stations in Sweden ever day. SJ also travels internationally to other Scandanavian cities including Oslo and Copenhagen.

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Train Companies in the United Kingdom


Abellio Greater Anglia: : Abellio Greater Anglia Trains succeeded National Express in 2012 as Eastern England's primary train company. Abellio's train network covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and parts of Hertfordshire.


Arriva Trains Wales: Arriva trains operate on 5 routes: between the Midlands and Northern Wales, between South Wales and Northern Wales/Manchester, along the South Wales Coast Line to Cardiff and Swansea, along the North Wales Coast Line to Crewe and Manchester, while also operating a network of commuter train lines in and around Cardiff.


C2C: c2c is predominantly a London commuter railway, providing services along the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line, from London Fenchurch Street to East London and along the southern part of Essex. Trains depart along the main route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness around 8 times each hour during off-peak times.


East Midlands Trains: East Midlands Trains operates two types of trains: long-distance trains connecting London St Pancras train station with destinations throughout the UK and regional trains. East Midlands's regional trains link towns and cities in the East Midlands as well as Central and Northern England. East Midlands trains run between London and Sheffield, York, Derby, Corby, Nottingham, and Leeds.


First Great Western: Great Western Railway is the main train company for the west and south-west counties in the UK including Devon, Somerset, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Wiltshire, and Bristol. Great Western's trains are also available in Wales, focusing specifically on Southern Wales.


First Hull Trains: First Hull Trains operate just one train from Hull to London, which stops at Brough, Howden, Selby, Doncaster, Retford, Grantham, and Stevenage along the way. First Hull's train schedule has grown every year since 2000, with 7 trains currently departing every day.


First Transpennine Express: First Transpennine Express operates intercity trains on 3 main routes across Northern England. First Transpennine Express trains connect Liverpool and Manchester with Leeds, York, Sheffield and Doncaster with as many as 5 trains departing per hour on some of the popular routes.


Merseyrail: Merseyrail operates trains throughout Liverpool, the surrounding area, and the rest of Merseyside. Over 100,000 passengers utilize Merseyrail's network every week with pproximately 800 trains departing every day.


Northern Rail: Northern Rail operates most trains in Northern England between Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.


Scotrail: Scotrail runs trains throughout Northern England connecting Newcastle and Carlisle with London. The vast majority of Scaotrail trains run between major Scottish cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee.


Southern: Southern trains run between London, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and Hampshire. Popular destinations include Hastings, Lewes, and Southampton. Southern also manages the Gatwick Express which is a 30 minute, non-stop train between London Victoria station and Gatwick International Airport.


South West Trains: South West Trains operates the majority of commuter trains from London Waterloo station to destinations in South West London. Most trains run on an electrified third rail, with diesel engine trains on the West of England line to Salisbury, Exeter, and Bristol.


Virgin Trains: Virgin Trains operates long-distance trains on the West Coast Main Line between Greater London, the West Midlands, North West England, North Wales and Scotland. Virgin Trains connects London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow.

International Trains in Europe


Eurostar: Journeys from London to other prominent French or Belgian cities will always involve a Eurostar train via the Chunnel under the English Channel. Eurostar trains run between London and Paris, Lille, Lyon, or Brussels. Traveling by the Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels takes approximately two and half hours.


Thalys: Founded as a partnership between SNCF, SNCB, and Deutsche Bahn in May 1995, Thalys links major cities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands by international high-speed train. Thalys trains link Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Liège, Aachen and Cologne.


Lyria: TGV Lyria trains, a partnership between SBB and SNCF, transports more than 4 million travelers per year between France and Switzerland. TGV Lyria operates 6 train routes: between Geneva and Lille, between Geneva and Nice (via Marseille), between Lausanne and Paris (via Geneva), between Lausanne and Paris (via Dijon), between Interlaken and Paris (via Bern, Basel, and Dijon), and between Zurich and Paris (via Basel and Mulhouse).


Thello: Created in 2010 via a cooperative agreement between Trenitalia and SNCF, Thello trains link major cities in France with cities in Northern Italy. Thello trains travel to many of the cities on France's Côte d'Azur. Thello offers night trains between Paris Gare de Lyon and Venezia Santa Lucia railway station, which stop at Dijon-Ville, Milano Centrale, Brescia, Verona Porta Nuova, Vicenza and Padova along the way. Daytime trains between Milan and Marseille (via Genoa and Nice) are also operated by Thello.

Deutsche Bahn and Renfe also offer international train routes into countries bordering Germany and Spain.



When is the best time to book train tickets in Europe?

With long-distance trains, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. Most companies release tickets 90 days in advance but there are some exceptions;
Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn release tickets 180 days in advance, French international trains (i.e. Paris-Amsterdam) release tickets 120 days in advance and Eastern European countries release tickets just 60 days in advance.

During peak months (i.e. the summer season and Christmas) trains will be busier and more expensive, as cheaper tickets sell out faster so, booking tickets as soon as they’re released will help keep costs down.

If you are booking a short-distance or intercity train within Europe, these tickets can be bought on the day of travel as prices fluctuate less.

Traveling by Train in European Countries


Traveling by Train in Europe: FAQS

How to Book a Train Ticket in Europe?

Booking a train ticket in Europe with Omio is easy. Just simply put in your departure and arrival destinations — and the date you’d like to travel— then Omio will do all the hard work for you. Within seconds, our search will present you with all the possible train routes running that day along with a breakdown of times and prices. Once you’ve picked the option that suits you best you just need to follow the instructions and within moments you would've paid and received your ticket!

Please note: That in some countries you can only book tickets up to 3 months in advance

Do I Need to Reserve a Seat?

Although most train journeys in Europe don’t require you to have a seat reservation, it is advised to buy one to secure yourself a seat. In some cases, particularly in the UK your seat reservation comes included when you buy a specific ticket. Other companies such as Deutsche Bahn and Trenitalia will offer seat reservations for an extra fee. If you have a Eurail pass then you will need to buy an additional seat reservation for every trip you take. Also in some rare cases, such as the Bernina Express, you must buy a seat reservation to be able to get on the train.

Before Boarding the Train

If your ticket is a mobile ticket (don’t worry we’ll let you know) then all you need to do is make sure your phone is fully charged! If your ticket needs to be printed then make sure this is done before you board your train. Also, give yourself plenty of time to find the platform. Some trains station, particularly in larger cities, can be quite big and its best to avoid stress by being there in time to find the platform and maybe pick -up a snack before you board the train.

What Amenities are on Trains?

Amenities will vary from country-to-country and train to train. Although it is safe to say that most long-distance journeys will have charging sockets, a cafe and Wifi. Furthermore, most trains in Europe will have toilets onboard and baggage storage.

What Baggage am I Allowed to Take on a Train?

Taking baggage on European trains is much more relaxed than that of airlines and in, some cases, buses. The general rule is that you’re allowed to bring with you what you can carry — for example, 2 large suitcases and a carry-on. Bags can be stowed either above the seats or at the end of each carriage and will be safe. Bigger items such as bikes will often need to have a ticket bought for them and for longer journeys may need to be stored in a different carriage. It is best to check with the train company that you are traveling to check their bike policy.

If you are traveling by Eurostar then it is worth noting that they have a baggage limit of two large items (of a maximum of 85cm in one dimension) as well as a carry-on. They also prohibit the carrying of certain items including knives over 3 inches and flammable canisters.

Can I take Pets on Trains in Europe?

Pet policy varies from country-to-country as well as companies. All companies will allow guide dogs but it is always worth notifying the company beforehand as sometimes they may require a free ticket to board the train. Most train companies, allow small dogs as long as they are properly stored in a dog carrier. However, as policies do vary we recommend checking with the company before purchasing your tickets. International services such as Eurostar will not allow animals except guide dogs.

Traveling with Children on European Trains

Traveling with children on trains in Europe is simple and often one of the easiest ways to get around the continent. Child travel policy varies from company-to-company but children 15 and under will often travel at a discounted price and must be accompanied by an adult. Babies and toddlers can often travel for free if they share a seat. It is worth checking with the train companies as ages and policies to vary.

Can I Cancel and Refund my Train Ticket?

Refunds depend on the company you are traveling with and the type of ticket you originally purchased. To check if you apply for a refund it is best to check with the train company directly or you can speak to someone in our Customer Service department.





Trains in the U.S.A

Most Popular U.S. Train Routes
Train Companies In the U.S.
Train Travel in U.S
U.S. Trains: FAQS

Explore the United States: trains within the US and Canada

Want to see what the United States and Canada have to offer but want to leave the car at home? Then it's time to embrace the train!

Train Companies in the U.S.

Amtrak is America’s train company, traveling to more than 500 destinations within the U.S. and across the border to Canada, too. Some of its most popular routes include New York to Toronto, Boston to Washington D.C., Chicago to San Francisco, Seattle to Los Angeles and Chicago to New Orleans.

Company Bio: Amtrak

Amtrak, the United State’s state-owned train company, has 21,000 route-miles throughout 46 states, District of Columbia and parts of Canada. Running more than 300 trains a day, Amtrak trains serve 500+ destinations. Providing services coast to coast, Amtrak can get you from New York City to Los Angeles in four days.

Train Companies in Canada

If you’re heading to Canada, check out VIA Rail. Travel on “The Great Western Way” and discover Canada from Toronto to Vancouver or take “The Maritime Way” and explore the country’s Eastern provinces.

Company Bio: VIA Rail

VIA Rail Canada is an independent, state-owned corporation that operates intercity train services throughout Canada. Running 500 trains a week, the company transports more than 4.7 million passengers yearly. The most popular Via Rail route is the Montréal–Ottawa–Toronto line, which takes a little more than five hours end-to-end. This line transports around 2.5 million people each year.

Traveling the U.S. or Canada by train is an enriching experience like no other. So get on board!

Trains in the U.S FAQ's:

When is the best time to book train tickets in the United States?

Catching a train in the United States? Here are some tips to help keep costs down:

  • Aim to travel outside summer and winter vacations as these are when trains are most expensive.
  • The earlier you book Amtrak tickets the better—even booking 14 days in advance can save you up to 25 percent compared to buying on the day of travel.
  • Whether you’re a local or a tourist, getting a discount card is worth it especially if you’re planning on using trains frequently.

Are Amtrak and VIA Rail tickets available on Omio?

Yes—we have launched in the U.S. meaning that Omio sells tickets for Amtrak and VIA Rail trains. You can get mobile tickets on selected routes. Look out for the green mobile ticket symbol.