Experiences travelling by train in Europe

Experiences travelling by train in Europe

The climate crisis is getting more obvious by the day and everybody should think of his or her part in it and how to reduce their carbon footprint. On the other hand, nobody wants to sit at home all day not doing anything in order to have the lowest possible CO2 emissions, so for many activities we have to find alternatives producing fewer emissions.

One obvious fossil powered industry is airplane travel. There will not be any battery- or hydrogen-powered alternatives available in a large quantity within the next 15 to 20 years, so the best alternative is to switch to another mode of travel altogether. If you do not want to drive in your own car, this leaves the bus and the train. When searching for a travel destination for this summer, I took this into account and decided on Scotland, a country I had never been to and which looked like it would be reachable by train in a decent amount of train.

I want to share my experience with this train journey with you in this blog post.

First, the route: From Munich to Paris, we took the TGV. It stops 5 times on the way and takes about 6 and a half hours. From Paris to London, we took the Eurostar (I think this is the only operator for this route). This takes 2 and a half hours plus one hour time zone difference and does not have any stops on the way. From London to Edinburgh, we took the Scottish/British railway (LNER). Again around 6 hours with a few stops. The route on the way back was the same, but we took a one day break in London.

Train route Munich - Edinburgh
For our travel dates, going via Paris was the best connection, but you can also go via Bruxelles.

So, are the Pros and Cons of going by train instead of by plane? Here is my personal list:


  • CO2 footprint is much smaller
  • Check-in: For trains not crossing the EU border, you just get to the train station and get in the train. No passport check, luggage control etc.
  • Crossing EU border: this happens in the train station in Paris (and London for the way back). Passport controls and luggage checks took around 10 minutes, also the luggage checks were quite simple (no unpacking of electronics etc.)
  • Luggage: No restrictions for size, weight or what you can take on the train
  • Locations: all train stations are in the heart of the cities, while airports are far outside. When changing trains in Paris, we had lunch in a street cafe which is way better than sitting around in an airport transit area
  • Comfort: I find sitting in the train and stretching our legs on the way to the restaurant wagon preferable to sitting in an airplane


  • Changes: You have to change trains more often then you would change planes. But the changes were nice, spending some time in the cities
  • Delays: we were lucky and had no issues, we only had to hurry a bit on the way back when changing trains in Paris. But you can have bad luck here with all methods of travel, airplane reliability in Europe 2022 was quite bad from what I read in the news


  • Cost: Nothing comes close to the cheap airplane tickets
  • Duration: It also takes much longer to go by train, even if the TGV speeds up to about 320 km/h
  • Entertainment: There is no lounge and onboard entertainment, but I do not like to watch movies on what feels like a 11 inch 480p screen anyway
Airport chaos
Summer 2022 was not a great time for airplane travel in Europe.

So, to sum it up: yes, not everyone is able to afford the more expensive tickets and it takes some degree of idealism to go by train. Still, I was surprised how simple and comfortable the journey was. I hope the train network will keep getting expanded, more overnight connections will be established and that this will also be a valid method of travel for people with smaller budgets and people who do not live in the well connected big cities.