How you reach your destination may have the biggest negative environmental impact on your vacation. So if you want to follow climate change activist, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Greta Thunberg’s example and reduce your carbon footprint on your next holiday, we’ve compiled a list of train journeys that provide a sustainable alternative to flying.
When Swedish student Greta Thunberg completed a European tour by train last month to meet with politicians and raise awareness of climate change, it encouraged environmentally-conscious travellers to rethink how they travel. According to the European Environment Agency, a plane emits 285 grams of carbon dioxide per person per kilometre, while trains only emit 14 grams. So rail travel is becoming the preferred mode of transport for green travellers. In Sweden this trend is backed by a movement called 'flygskam' or 'flight shame,' referring to the feeling of environmental guilt travellers have over flying.
As more Swedes seek climate-friendly ways to travel, the Swedish national rail company Statens Järnvägar (SJ) has reported a record high of 32 million customers in 2018. "One of the contributing factors for this is the growing awareness of our climate footprint," a spokesperson for SJ told Lonely Planet. "Another factor is that more and more Swedish people see the time on board our trains as their own quality time, in which they are able to do all sorts of relevant things as studying, working as well as socialising with friends and family."
It's not always practical but if your holiday destination is accessible by train and you have the time, it's worth taking one. Below is a list of train journeys that cross routes most commonly accessed by flights; maybe one will inspire your next trip?
Adelaide to Brisbane
A new luxury train experience will take travellers on a journey through Australia’s south-eastern corner, linking the cities of Adelaide and Brisbane when the new Great Southern route launches just in time for Australia's summer in December. Read about it here.
London to Edinburgh
A new low-fare rail service aimed at reducing the number of flights between London and Edinburgh is in the works. The average fare will be £25 with free Wi-Fi and onboard catering. The only problem is we'll have to wait until autumn 2021 for the service to launch. Read about it here.
Hong Kong to mainland China
A new high-speed rail line connects Hong Kong to mainland China with bullet trains connecting Hong Kong’s newly-built Kowloon West Railway Station with major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Read about it here.
Rotterdam to Berlin
If you need to get from Amsterdam to Germany there probably isn't a better way to do it than with an overnight Jazz Night Express train from Rotterdam to Berlin. It launches in June and guests will be treated to three live jazz performances on board the train. Organisers call it "one of the best night trains ever". Read about it here.
Anyone using a Eurail Global Pass can add three more countries to their 2019 itinerary as Great Britain, Lithuania and Macedonia have joined the list of countries where pass-holders can enjoy unlimited train travel bringing the total up to 31 countries. Read about it here.
If you need more inspiration, especially for rail travel where the journey is more important than the destination, check out Lonely Planet's guide to 60 of the world’s greatest train journeys.