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Cost to Travel by Train: A Time and Cost Comparison

written by: nataliajones•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/29/2011

When you have to decide which mode of transportation to take, two factors come into play. How long will it take and how much will it cost. This article will touch on the time aspect but mainly will ask the question "what does it cost to travel by train?"

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    What Does it Cost to Travel By Train?

    What Does it Cost to Travel by Train Although it is tempting to assume that traveling by train is always going to be the cheaper alternative, this is not always the case. In some cases, there are actually budget airline tickets that cost less than luxury train tickets to the same destination. It is also possible to get a budget airline ticket that costs less than a train ticket if you bought the plane ticket in advance, while the train ticket was purchased for immediate use.

    For instance, train tickets from London to Paris on the popular Eurostar line range from £155 or approximately US$243 for standard cabins all the way to £225 or US$352 for more luxurious travel accommodations. A plane ticket costs approximately £130 or US$204 to £200 or US$313 for the same trip. To travel the distance by plane takes a little over an hour whereas taking the train takes a little over two hours.

    One good way of bringing down the cost of a train ticket is by planning ahead and paying in advance. This kind of foresight could save you as much as fifty percent on the cost of a train ticket, which can really make an impact on your travel budget. To save even more money on the cost of train travel, you can buy a pass that groups a number of locations together. Some common examples of this are the EuroRail Pass, the Amtrak Pass or Multi-ride passes on any train line. If you plan on taking an extensive vacation using railway transportation along the way, these are ideal solutions because you can use the schedules to map out your route and then buy them in advance. There may even be specials for children, seniors or students so this is another avenue for cost cutting.

    Assuming that you wanted to take the same class of transportation, and you would buy both ahead of time and compare each on the basis of cost alone, then in most instances taking the train would be less expensive, but especially in instances where measures such as those mentioned above, were taken to cut costs.

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    Does Traveling By Train Save Time?

    After tackling the question "what does it cost to travel by train?," it is time to turn the attention to the time element. Whether or not traveling by train saves time can be both yes and no depending on a number of factors. Traveling by train is certainly faster than driving yourself or taking a bus as most trains not only travel at a faster speed, but the tracks also tend to cut through a shorter route that would be impassable to a car or a bus. Traveling by plane may be faster but this also depends on the destination. If you need to get from one city to the next taking the train might be less time consuming if you factor in the wasted minutes going through security checkpoints. For longer distances though taking the train might take longer even if you have to wait for hours at the airport.

    To put it simply, it is impossible to say definitively that traveling by train always saves time because there are a number of factors to consider. Although train travel is cheaper than air travel in most instances there are a few instances when this is also not the case. However, if you are on a budget traveling by train can be an excellent alternative if your destinations are well served by a railway system as it can save time and money.


    Image: Matt Banks /