It seems we’re at a tipping point. We’ve been binge-flying. Some 70 per cent of UK flights are taken by 15 per cent of the population and flying is the single most carbon intensive discretionary behaviour we can undertake. And this really matters now. Australia is on fire. Or being hit by giant hailstones. Or engulfed in dust clouds. Climate change is truly upon us in all its terrible predictability. Yet don’t despair at flight-shaming – it’s time to look on the bright side. Seeing other parts of the world should be a joyous thing. In the immortal words of Bananarama ‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’. This is not the end of travel, but we are going to have to change how we do it, how far we go, for how long and for how often.
I think we are entering an era of far fewer, perhaps longer trips, with many more of them taken closer to home or overland. Sleeper trains, once seemingly on the way out, are springing back to life across Europe’s best train journeys. It’s easier than ever to book trans-continental trains in one transaction at websites such as raileurope.co.uk. And at a time when we’re obsessed with control, there’s something truly magical about the randomness and serendipity of flight-free adventures.
Admittedly, having circumnavigated the world without a plane, I am a little obsessive. In 2019, I took trains to Berlin, Lisbon, Inverness (on the smart new Caledonian Sleeper), Barcelona (twice), Brussels (pre-Eurostar we used to fly there, remember?), Penzance and the Sail and Rail to the west of Ireland. Every trip was wild and wonderful for its own reasons. Let’s face it, you rarely get fascinating travel stories on planes. So here are seven reasons why we should all be swapping air fortrain travel in 2020. And beyond.
Here are seven reasons train travel trumps flying