Where in Europe is taking the train fast and affordable, and where is it not? Journalism ++ and the European Data Journalism Network has gathered data on train journeys from 28 booking websites across Europe, collecting more than 8,000 single journey ticket prices and travel times for 73 sample routes.
If you live in a place where it’s fairly easy for you to reach a train, transportation researchers say that two of the largest barriers that keep you from taking it are ticket cost and travel time. Taking the train may simply be too expensive and too slow, compared to other modes of transport. In April this year, wee collected 8,000 single journey ticket prices and travel times for 73 routes in the European Union Member states with a railway, plus Switzerland and Norway, in an attempt to analyse where trains are fast and tickets affordable, and where they aren’t.
The train is faster than the car for 35 out of the 73 routes we’ve collected data on. Generally, the train out-performs the car when you travel longer distances, with only a few exceptions, while the car often wins over shorter distances.
When it comes to affordability, tickets in some countries tend to be a lot more expensive than in others, if adjusted for citizens’ median net wages. Tickets are, perhaps paradoxically, often more expensive in countries with lower incomes than in countries with higher incomes. There are of course exceptions. The tickets for the routes we’ve collected for Germany are, for example, comparably expensive.
To travel between Madrid and Barcelona will set you back about 7 percent of a median Spanish net income. But the trains between Madrid and Barcelona are very fast and you’ll save 3 hours by taking the train rather than car. Contrast that with people in Romania travelling from Bucharest to Timisoara. They’ll pay about the same percentage of their income for a ticket, but instead of gaining time they will actually lose 2 hours compared to travelling by car.