If you’ve been following my Twitter threads, you should be aware that I’m just back from a trip to Austria that I decided to do via train. The meeting was for a collaboration that developed after I spent some time in Vienna and my decision to travel by train was partly motivated by my giving a talk at a flight free event, and partly by me just wanting to see what it would be like.I started my journey just over a week ago, by catching a local bus to Edinburgh’s Waverley train station, from which I got the West-Coast train to London. It would have been faster to go down the East-Coat mainline, but I was trying to minimise the costs. I spent the night in London and then caught the early Eurostar to Paris, getting to Paris at 10am. I had to get the Metro from Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon, but it was pretty straightforward and I had plenty of time. I then caught the TGV Lyria from Paris to Zurich which – at times – was travelling at close to 300km/hr.
I had a couple of hours in Zurich and then had a Railjet train from Zurich to Innsbruck, getting there just after 10pm. The next morning I had a short train trip from Innsbruck to Brixlegg, and then a 20 minute bus ride to Alpbach, where our meeting was being held (the bus stop was actually right outside where I was staying). The meeting was pretty intensive, so I didn’t get much free time, but it was a beautiful venue.
The meeting ended at lunchtime on Wednesday, so I headed back to Innsbruck, had some time to look around, and then found a nice beerhall for dinner. I had a mid-morning train on Thursday from Innsbruck to Zurich, a mid-afternoon train from Zurich to Paris, and then an early evening train from Paris back to London. I then caught the early morning train on Friday back to Edinburgh and arrived back in time for our exam board meeting.
It all went pretty smoothly, there were no delays, and it was quite a relaxing way to travel. I’d certainly consider doing it again.
The emissions from train travel are substantially less than those from flying. My rough estimate was ~40kg of CO2 (train), versus around ~300kg of CO2 (plane). It is also a pleasant way to travel, you get to see the scenery, and can get some work done (I finished a draft of a proposal, finalised the talk I was going to be giving, responded to emails, and also managed to prepare somethings that I’d thought I might only be able to do this coming week). I also watched a few movies that I had downloaded.
Although the price of the train tickets wasn’t much higher than what I think it would have cost to fly (especially as I would probably have had to fly to a major city and then catch at least one train anyway), I did have to leave a day earlier, and come back a day later. So, there were essentially two extra days, and two extra hotels.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One… – a great site with all sorts of tips about train travel through the UK, Europe, and Worldwide.