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Friday 11 October 2019

Take the train: it's faster, easier and more fun

It may be hard to convince Sydneysiders, who have one of the worst rail services on the planet. 
And even more difficult to convince Tasmanians, who have no passenger trains at all. 
But the fact is that for many journeys within Europe, and certainly western Europe, catching the train between major cities is faster, easier and more affordable than flying.

While flights need you to be at an often-distant airport two hours before you fly - and compel you to go through all the security rigmarole - for most fast train services you simply turn up, get on board, sit back and are transported from city centre to city centre.
There's no turbulence, the views can be spectacular and delays are rare.    
London to Paris in under 2 1/2 hours,  Munich to Bolzano in Italy in four hours. Plus you can stand up, walk around and use free wifi on inter-city services. 
Eurail passes allow you travel through Europe (country to county and within regions) via train. 
Not only is a pass a quick and easy alternative travelling method, it is an amazing and picturesque way to travel and see what Europe has to offer, as trains allows you to gaze out the window and take in those beautiful landscapes. 
And in addition to major cities, you can also stop off in smaller, lesser-known towns, maybe just to visit a brewery or a museum for an hour or two. 

Launched in 1959, the Eurail pass gives travellers of all ages the ability to visit up to 31 different European countries. 
Even travellers visiting Europe on short itineraries can benefit from the ease and cost effectiveness of a Eurail pass, with options starting from three days and extending to itineraries of up to three months. 
There is an excellent phone app available that works offline and features rail schedules across the network, including notification of any trains that may require reservations or supplements. 
These can be tricky but you certainly need reservations for international services like Thalys and Eurostar. They should ideally be booked at least a few days in advance and you can also choose between aisle and window seats and which direction you prefer to face. 
Supplements vary from country to country but are usually payable on board without penalty. And if you just want to hop from, say London to Norwich, the process could not be simpler. 
And if you are worried about luggage, I found most stations had elevators or easy access to platforms. Also, most train stations have lockers. This makes it easy to stop in the middle of a longer route, drop your bags, and stretch your legs for a few hours while you explore the area.  
Trains are a delightful way to travel. Highly recommended. See
# The writer was a guest of Eurail 

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