For many Canadians, trains are seen mainly as a method of commuting to work rather than a travel option.
It perhaps comes as no surprise then that most Canadians are inexperienced with using rail services for travel purposes.
Photo credit: ©Alex Profit/SNCF
By contrast, travelling by train in Europe is a huge part of the culture. Efficient and luxurious features like high-speed service and comfortable sleeping accommodations for extended travelling allows for travellers to pass through countries in a matter of hours. According to Rares Dumitru, regional sales director of Rail Europe Canada, travelling by train can be an incredibly enjoyable experience for Canadians once they’re aware of how the rail networks operate.
“The European rail system is easier, more comfortable and enjoyable which makes travel by rail its own memorable experience,” Dumitru said. “This reluctance can sometimes be a hurdle, but easily overcome by simply educating people about the convenience of rail travel in Europe.”
Photo credit: ©Matthieu Raffard/SNCF
For years, Rail Europe has opened up the possibility for Canadians to experience Europe by train. The company has long been recognized as a trusted rail carrier for North American travellers, starting out as Swiss Railways 100 years ago, then merging with its 75-year-old French counterpart, to become what it is today. Rail Europe encompasses a network of 35 railways, and works with more than 50 separate European train companies, which means Canadian travellers have endless options to suit their travel needs.
Unlike travelling by plane, travelling by train in Europe allows individuals to relax and interact with fellow travellers if they wish. Whether you’re sharing a story over a cappuccino with a local passenger, or making stops along the way en route to your final destination, travelling by train lets you get a feel for European culture from the ground up, because you allow yourself to be immersed in everything from food to entertainment. “When you take the train, it’s about the journey as much as the destination,” Dumitru said. “Train stations themselves can be beautiful landmark destinations, and offer excellent connections with other public transportation such as the underground, taxis and buses.”
Photo credit: ©Pierre-Antoine Pluquet/SNCF
When you travel by plane, you’re lucky if you catch a sunrise or a sunset over the clouds, or see twinkling lights of a far away city down below. Rail transport, however, allows you to see Europe’s incredible landscapes up close. It also means you can avoid stressful boarding times, inconvenient flight delays, lost baggage, and a whole host of other unfortunate surprises that tend to happen in crowded airports. ** New this year, Rail Europe has introduced a high-speed route from Paris to Bordeaux. Launched in July, the new rail line shortened the journey from three hours to two, making France’s wine capital now an accessible day trip from the city of Paris. Switzerland also introduced the Gotthard Panorama Express – a five-hour trip that begins with a two-and-a-half steamboat ride across Lake Lucerne before connecting to Swiss scenic rail.
With incredibly easy pre-booking itineraries, maps, and flexible travel passes and tickets, Rail Europe continues to be a premium choice for Canadian travellers who wish to experience authentic Europe. Complimentary WiFi, gourmet meals prepared by world-class chefs, power outlets, audio and video systems, ample luggage storage and legroom, and air conditioned and non-smoking cars are just some of the additional amenities passengers can take advantage of on board Rail Europe trains.
“We partner with Canadian tour operators that offer European trips and they are including more and more train travel segments in their itineraries,” Dumitru said. “This is a sign that the demand is there and that Canadians recognize that train travel is the single best way to move around Europe.”