Lonely Planet Writer

The train journeys that are cheaper and faster than flying

Train trips are often romanticised as a way to slow down the pace of travel and really enjoy the scenic route, but there are a number of trips that can satisfy the practical needs of saving you time and even money.

The Nilgiris Mountain Railway in Tamil Nadu, India. Image by © Naufal MQ/Getty Images

Travel booking site Rome2rio has put together a list of some journeys that will save time or money, which could make all the difference if you’re short on one or both. According to Kirsteene Phelan, Rome2rio’s chief operating officer: “Cost saving routes are often found in countries which have a strong heritage of rail travel like India or those where you cover large distances such as Argentina or Russia. As well as saving on travel costs, savvy holidaymakers can also time their travel to include overnight enroute as the cost of sleeper cabins can be less than hotel prices.”

Colorful facades, Caminito, Buenos Aires. Image by ©Stuart Dee/Getty Images

If you’re travelling in India, heading from Mumbai to New Delhi on an overnight train will save you money even if you travel first class when compared to flying. Rome2rio says a train ticket will cost £18 to £25, but flight prices range from £28 to £131. Travellers in Argentina can opt for a train when heading between Buenos Aires and Cordoba, as the ride costs about £9 to £55 and flight prices are between £25 and £225. Plus, you can get a night’s sleep on the 20-hour ride and admire the view. In Europe, heading from Lyon in France to Milan by train will cost £65 to £75, while flights could cost anywhere from £70 to £235.

Sacre-Coeur Basilica just before sunset with people sitting on grass in square Louise Michel. Image by ©BargotiPhotography/Getty Images

But perhaps you are willing to spend a bit of extra cash to get to your destination faster – that still doesn’t mean a flight is your best option. Travelling between two major cities that are geographically close can be faster without the hassles of the airport and you’ll have way more legroom. For example, London to Brussels on Eurostar will only take about two hours, while Rome2rio notes that travelling from London Heathrow to Brussels’ poorly located airport will take nearly four hours, including travel to the airports. The new London to Amsterdam Eurostar route takes the same time as flying. In Italy, travelling from Genoa to Florence on Trenitalia Freece takes under three hours, while a flight will require a transfer, making the journey take more than five hours. When travelling in the UK, Edinburgh to Liverpool is only 3.5 hours on the Virgin West Coast train, while travelling to the airport, checking in and flying taking about 5.5 hours.

It’s now been about 25 years since the Channel Tunnel between France and Britain opened, and London to Paris remains one of the most popular routes with Rome2rio’s users. The company says users also rate Belgrade to Bar, Toronto to Vancouver, and San Louis Obispo to San Diego as the top train journey around the world. Learn more about booking train journeys here.