New high-speed rail: Better than flying?

By Michael Flux, November 4 2010
New high-speed rail: Better than flying?

A new way to travel from England to Germany is on the way, and it might be better than flying.

Deutsche Bahn, Germany's state rail company, has just completed a dry run of its new Intercity-Express (ICE) high-speed train through the UK-France channel tunnel - once operational, the train will connect London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Cologne and Rotterdam.

The news is significant because on at least one route, the ICE train presents a viable alternative to air travel.

The rail journey on the Cologne-London route is set to take around four hours. In the air, the same journey takes just an hour and a half. But considering airlines recommend showing up two to three hours before an international flight's departure time, with additional delays added on when going through customs and exiting the airport, travellers will be looking at similar travel times whether it's rail or air that they choose.

Currently, you can purchase an economy flight from London Stansted Airport to Cologne Bonn Airport for about 50 Australian dollars. The price for taking the rail route is not yet known.

The most appealing aspect of the new trains? They'll have you zooming through the French countryside at up to 300 kilometres per hour. Boarding and departing will also be relatively easy. It's likely that those choosing high-speed rail over air travel will arrive at their destination in a far better mood.

Although the test run has been successful, the ICE train won't be taking regular passengers until at least late 2012. When it does, it will perform three return journeys a day.

The ICE trains will join a number of high-speed rail lines throughout the world. China is currently building a Beijing-Shanghai route, set to be complete in 2011 and make the journey in under four hours. Meanwhile, the US government is distributing $4.2 billion dollars to projects throughout the country for high-speed rail upgrades.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2554

I think fast rail is an excellent alternative to flying. I've used trains rather than planes to hop between several European cities and the train's relatively slower speed is offset by the need for early arrival at the airport, security checks and also that the train stations tend to be in the heart of the city - saving you an extra 30 minutes or so each way in getting to and from the airport (plus the cost of taxis).

And I definitely agree it's more productive. You can work on your laptop, and often with wi-fi, from the moment you step on the train to the moment you step off, and there's none of the noise or changed cabin pressure either.

As the old NSW State Rail commercial used to say: "Train's the way to go, yeah, train's the way to go!".




24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

Quite surprising that there are no security checks for high speed trains. If you got on a high speed train with a bomb, it would derail in a fairly catastrophic way, I imagine.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 671

American rail companies in fact boast about their lack of "take off your shoes please" and "let us see you naked with our x-ray" checks.

They're running out of things to add to airport security, maybe trains are next?

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on New high-speed rail: Better than flying?