Eurostar Competing with Airlines
In these times of record oil prices and global warming fears, train-operator Eurostar seems to be becoming an increasingly popular choice for folks wanting to travel between mainland Europe and the UK. With studies claiming as much as 90% lower carbon footprint per journey than an equivalent flight, efforts to cut that footprint even further and offset the rest, and now Eurostar's positive and accomodating response to bicycle protests, the company seems to be well aware of the green market for their service. However, when we reported on the favourable journey times and pricing compared to airlines, commenter Steve pointed out that this doesn't necessarily hold true if you're not starting from, or traveling to, London. It would have cost him UK£432 (approx. US$864) for two tickets from Newport in Wales to Paris. Instead he opted to fly from nearby Bristol airport for about half the price. This author thought he was in a similar predicament when he recently tried to book a journey from Bristol to Amsterdam, but it turns out that if you shop around, things ain't so bad.
Shop Around for Cheap Train Tickets
Booking the journey directly through the Eurostar website would have cost an absolute minimum of UK£433 ($866) for two passengers. However, on further investigation we discovered that, if booked far enough in advance and limited to specific train times, the Bristol to London segment of the journey was a mere UK£54 (US$108), the London to Brussels segment was £148 (US$296), and the Brussels to Amsterdam segment was â‚¬66 (UK£52/US$104) — making a grand total of £254 (US$508). Granted, that still hurts for anyone dealing with the dollar exchange rate, but compare it to the £222 (US$444) and it's not that outrageous. For those with time constraints it starts to look less attractive, but as someone who enjoys train travel, and with friends in London and no objection to a long break for lunch in Brussels, it's beginning to look like a pretty fine vacation indeed. And let's not forget that if you are starting from London the math is considerably more favourable, and if you are travelling within Belgium, any onward journey from Eurostar is absolutely free!
Websites to Shop Around for Train Travel in Europe
The Trainline (UK)
B-Rail (Belgium — English-language version)
SNCF (France — English-language version)
TGV-Europe (Europe-wide High Speed Rail)
More on Eurostar
Eurostar to Cut Emissions 25% and Offset the Rest
Trains vs. Planes — Eurostar Joins the Debate
Eurostar vs. Planes — It's About More Than Just Green
Bicycles Now Permitted on Eurostar
British Airway's Profits Squeezed by Eurostar and High Oil Prices
More on Alternatives to Flying
Seat 61: Get There Without Flying
Spain's New High-Speed Rail Challenging the Airlines
High-Speed Rail Comes to the Americas
CA High-Speed Rail Initiative: "If We Don't Pass This, We Will Never Have High-Speed Trains in the US"
::Eurostar::via site visit::