Train Travel in Europe is a reliable, fast mode of transport, providing comfort and a great scenic window to the ever changing European landscapes.
Train stations in Europe are centrally located in the heart of cities and towns, enabling convenient travel between destinations. The Eurostar from London to Paris as an example, departs from central London at St. Pancras Station arriving at Gare du Nord Station in the heart of Paris in 2 ½ hours, in far less time and fuss than flying.
A popular train in winter for snow travelers is the TGV (fast train) from Paris to Geneva, taking just over 3 hours. Once at Geneva connecting trains and buses can transport you to your mountain destination.
Purchasing a train ticket in Europe is as simple as visiting the ticket office located at the station and advising the agent your destination and preferred departure time. The agents are very helpful and all speak excellent English. Advance purchase of tickets is advisable if traveling in peak periods; they can be booked online and collected at the train station.
In winter the trains are very busy on Saturdays (resort change over days) and reserving a seat is advised.
Once at the train station look for the arrivals and departures board. The boards will list the time of the trains departure and the platform number. The class, cabin number and seat number will be printed on your ticket.
TGV trains need seat reservations so it is always a good idea to book them one or two days in advance. You can book train tickets for any destination online or at any train station.
European trains are divided into two classes; first class and second class. First class cabins are quiet and spacious with large reclining seats and generous leg room, while second class cabins have more seats per cabin and less leg space. Second class travel is very popular as First class tickets can cost 40% more. Each passenger irrespective of class is allowed two large bags per person which must be stored under your seat, above your head in the overhead luggage rack or at either end of the cabin in luggage storage areas.
Most trains have a dining cart where you can purchase sandwiches, snacks, tea and coffee and alcoholic beverages. Many people purchase food from the train stations prior to boarding the train or from bakeries and supermarkets as a cheaper option than purchasing on the train.
Long distance and TGV trains have dining cars offering full meals. Train timetables indicate if there is a dining car on your trip, with a crossed knife and fork symbol. The food served is of high quality with excellent accompanying wines.
A memorable train trip in the winter months is the Glacier Train trip from Zermatt To St Moritz, taking just under 8 hours. The train travels a stunning alpine route over the Oberalp Pass, through picturesque valleys, across 291 bridges , through 91 tunnels, past tiny villages and deep into the Graubunden Swiss National Park region. The train is equipped with extra large viewing windows and multilingual audio guides relaying historical and informative facts. The Glacier Train has been in operation since 1930. Reservations must be made in advance for the Glacier Train.