Rail travel is safe, convenient and offers all the luxuries and amenities that air travel provides. Even if you are a frequent flier, you will see right away that traveling in a railroad car is not an acquired taste; one takes to it immediately. So hop on board, enjoy the ride and see for yourself why the railway is the ultimate way to travel in the EU.
Over the last few years, we are seeing the popularity of travel by train on the rise. In 2015 there were 392 billion passenger-kilometers traveled on national railway networks in the EU. And not just the domestic train travel, also the international train travel in Europe with 23 billion passenger-kilometers traveled in 2015 is on the rise. And if you are a last-minute traveler, sometimes it is door-to-door faster and sometimes cheaper, although traveling by train is not as cheap as some might think.
Train travel is without the hassle of checking-in 1 1/2 hour before your departure, expensive airport food, a lot of waiting, and the discomfort of today’s regular flights though. All in all, traveling by train is a super convenient and an environmental alternative to a flight. It’s time to rediscover the pleasure, romance & adventure of travel by train.
This post explains how to travel comfortably & affordably by train. Check out some of the data we have accumulated on the European train travel from our data. In Europe, international train travel is the most popular in Luxembourg with over 2,000 km per inhabitant. France and Germany together accounted for 72 % of international rail travel.
More and more rail companies are now offering Wi-Fi on their trains. However, keep in mind that some trains reach speeds of 300 km/h and travel through tunnels and hilly areas where reception is not ideal. It’s important to know which rail lines offer uninterrupted Wi-Fi service throughout the journey. To date, the main rail companies offering Wi-Fi are:
- Thalys: Free Wi-Fi on all routes, in Comfort 1 and Comfort 2.
- Eurostar: Free Wi-Fi on new E320 trains, which are being rolled out on the London-Paris route.
- ICE: Free Wi-Fi (in 1st and 2nd class) on main routes in Germany.
- NS (the Netherlands): Free Wi-Fi (in 1st class and 2nd class) on InterCity trains featuring the Wi-Fi logo on the outside.
When traveling internationally via train in Europe, as from July 2017 non-systematic and non-permanent security checks will be introduced in train stations all over Europe. Take a safe time margin of 30-45 minutes for these security checks. Allow yourself enough time to find your way around the station and to catch your train with complete peace of mind. Generally, we recommend being on the platform around 5 minutes before departure of the train.
European rights of rail passengers
Rail passengers should be aware of their rights regarding receiving specific information for the preparation of your journey, rights to information and assistance for disabled passengers, and a right to compensation in the event of delays. Details on the latter is quite complex but is clearly explained here or here
- Predictable delay of more than 60 minutes – If it appears before the departure that the delay affecting arrival at the final destination is expected to be over 60 minutes (compared to the predicted time on the ticket), the traveler is entitled to choose among the following dispositions:
- a) refund of the ticket: The traveler may obtain a full refund of the price paid for his ticket for the uncompleted section of the journey, but also for the completed section of his journey if the trip is no longer worthwhile in the context of the traveler’s original travel plan. When relevant, the traveler who has faced disruption to his journey will also be transported back to his initial departure point at the earliest opportunity.
- b) completion of the journey at the earliest opportunity The traveler can complete his journey at the earliest opportunity via another route, under similar traveling conditions, to his final destination.
- c) completion of the journey at a later date The traveler can complete his journey at a later date at his own convenience via another route, under similar traveling conditions, to his final destination.
- Compensation for delays – Unless your ticket was refunded according to point 1. a) above, you are entitled to the following compensations if your train was delayed for more than 60 minutes (in the Netherlands you can get a refund after 30 minutes (for international travel)):
- 25% of the value of your ticket for a delay between 60 and 119 minutes included
- 50% of the value of your ticket for a delay of 120 minutes or more
- Please notice, however, that no compensation will be paid below €4.
Some train companies apply more generous compensation policy than the general European rule. If needed check out their respective websites.
Extra perks. Rail companies offer a variety of perks and advantage, so pay attention when booking your tickets. The range of services across all train companies is vast and varied – from free magazines and drinks to concierge services. When booking on-line, simply click the “details” button below the Premier fare to see a detailed description of the services you can expect. Plus, you’ll often find that exclusive perks start before you even board the train, like access to lounges and priority check-in.
Some of the more popular perks are offered by Eurostar Business Premier, AVE Club Class and TGV First Class, where you’ll enjoy generous legroom in spacious, sophisticated and quiet coaches. On British trains, all Premier tickets include free Wi-Fi. Additionally, all Premier tickets for RENFE night trains and TGV trains also offer access to first class lounges at the train station. If traveling overnight, you can enjoy a double or single deluxe compartment, which includes your own shower and bathroom for an unrivaled level of comfort and privacy.
While you are on the trip, don’t forget to save all T&E invoices for VAT recovery. Check out our Business Travel Guide to VAT with some guidelines that will ensure that your organization can reclaim the VAT rightfully due.
For more information on the VAT recovery from your international travels, VATBox can help. VATBox has successfully streamlined the global VAT recovery process, providing businesses with unrivaled visibility, compliance, and data integrity, and ultimately boosting its bottom line. To maximize eligible VAT refunds, many companies choose to implement VATBox, an automated, enterprise-wide, cloud-based VAT recovery solution, that streamlines the global VAT recovery process. Let us show you how your company too can recover VAT on it Travel & Expenses. Request a free demo here