Our President and CEO, Frédéric Langlois, contributes monthly to our High Speed Rail News blog series. Sharing his passion for travel and high-speed rail of which he is considered an expert. With over 17 years in the industry, Langlois sits on the Advisory Boards of the German National Tourist Office, the French National Tourist Office and hotel giant Accor. In addition, he has appeared on cable news discussing the future of high-speed trains in the United States.
Summer is here & July delivers its characteristic sweltering heat! It is time to get away and if distant shores are on your horizon, you can still escape to Europe for a rail-break. Rail sales to Europe continue to be robust; in fact the travel pattern emerging this year is so distinct that even though we have only just past the half year mark, based on our own sales, we can offer some information on what is popular in terms of train travel in Europe this year.
While our overall company sales are up 20 percent over last year, it has been clear for some months now that Britain and Spain are leading the way in terms of increasing numbers of North American travelers on their trains. So far this year, our number of travelers purchasing rail in the United Kingdom has more than doubled. Britain’s extensive rail network connects England, Wales and Scotland and now that North American travelers have access to the same fare range that travelers in the UK do, it makes sense to plan a little in advance and purchase tickets before you leave as it will cost the same buying it here or over there.
And let’s talk a little about Spain! The country has invested a lot of time and money in its high speed rail network – and it is paying off! We have seen a rail passenger growth of approximately 90 percent over last year for Spain. Clearly the cost-conscious traveler knows a deal when they see one and when you travel to Europe armed with a few train tickets to connect you to a few great towns or cities, the ease, convenience and city center to city center connections, makes for time and money saving vacations.
Whether you consider yourself a romantic, sophisticated or green traveler, arriving by train into the heart of London, Edinburgh, Paris, Valencia or Barcelona fits all your needs and even saves you some taxi money on airport/city center transfers.
Some of my own favorite summer train journeys include Valencia to Madrid on the AVE only takes 1 hour and 38 minutes, so it is a great way to explore two of its great cities. Spain is a great summer destination and the long afternoon siesta’s mean that you always feel rested enough to hop on a train and explore another city or just stay out late to enjoy the one you are in. Paris to Avignon on the TGV only takes about 2 hours and 40 minutess and there is nothing quite so beautiful as seeing the city scenes of Paris give way to green fields which in turn become fields of purple – can you smell the lavender?