British travellers vote yes to high speed rail
It wasn't just the cabbies that drove stranded passengers thousands of miles across Europe who benefited from the recent shutdown of the skies. Eurostar transported nearly half a million people during this unprecedented period (greentraveller's European Rail Journey Planner received over 12,000 unique visitors in the last 5 days). Now as the dust settles, Eurostar has commissioned a survey of passengers who swapped their airline tickets for rail tickets...
Eurostar wanted to know if this was going to be a one-off or would the passengers take the train again... whether there was volcanic ash fallout or not. The good news is that over 84% of those surveyed said that they would definitely or probably choose high speed rail over air when they are next planning a trip to continental Europe. Which is pretty amazing, considering many were travelling under far from normal conditions, with packed carriages, long queues and, often, suffering from exhaustion.
Passengers who found their way by rail across France, Holland, Germany and Switzerland, to name but a few, are now able to see that there is a whole overground network of relaxing rail journeys throughout Europe, a growing number of which are high speed.
Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar’s Chief Executive, said: “ There is no doubt that the airline disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano has made people reassess their travel options with eight out of ten now saying they might well opt for rail over plane. With a journey time of around four hours from London to Amsterdam or Cologne and five hours to Frankfurt, high speed rail is seen as a serious alternative to flying short haul.”
The survey reinforced the attractions of city centre to city centre rail journeys with 43% respondents saying that they would be happy to travel by train for up to 6 hours (for a list of those destinations reachable in under 6.5 hours from London by train see greentraveller's European Rail Journey Planner). Over 80% of those surveyed would choose to go to France by rail and over 50% said they would opt for the train when going to Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Rail travel in Europe does certainly cater for seamless travel and, as demand grows, let's hope supply will too. Although Eurostar did cope impressively with the sudden surge in demand, putting on more than sixty extra services during this time. So the capacity is obviously there.
Eurostar is developing its service all the time to cater for this growth in rail travel, which has already been on the up over recent years anyway. As well as the links with high speed networks, Eurostar is now running a service with SNCF whereby Eurostar passengers can travel by train from the UK to Provence, connecting through Lille, in specially reserved coaches on connecting TGVs.
Tickets for travel from London to Lyon and Marseille on the connecting services are on sale now for travel from 1 June and prices start from £109 return to Lyon and £119 return to Marseille. Over the coming months, Eurostar will seek feedback from passengers and, if this service proves popular, will look to extend it to other destinations. And if eight out of ten people are now say they prefer trains over planes, they aren't going to have a shortage of people to ask.
For rail tickets to Europe, see greentraveller's unique 'At a Glance' rail journey planner: Plan your journey by train.