Can you create a website like Low-tech Magazine and then hop on a plane to visit your family for Christmas? I don’t think so. This year my girlfriend and I will travel from Barcelona to Brussels by train. An expensive business.
A plane ticket would have cost us 250 euro (\$320), both ways, two persons. The train ticket costs 560 euro (\$720), or more than double the fare of a plane ticket (352 euro Barcelona-Paris, 208 euro Paris-Brussels).
Mind you, it is not the only price I have to pay. My family, my friends and my girlfriend all think I’m nuts. They know me as the guy always short on cash.
The travel time for the plane trip is 4 hours (one way, including airport transit time), while travel time on the train is 15.5 hours (12 hours Barcelona-Paris, 1.5 hours Paris-Brussels, and at least 2 hours of waiting and travelling between two trains that arrive and leave at different stations).
More than double the price for almost quadruple the travel time. I expect to meet a lot of hardcore environmentalists on that train (not to mention all the technophobes afraid of flying). What other incentive is there to choose a means of transport that is both slower and more expensive?
We could have cut the travel time in half if we had chosen a high-speed train from Barcelona to Paris. However, that would more than double the price on that section.
The reason why the train ticket between Paris and Brussels (600 kilometres or 370 miles both ways, 208 euro) is relatively more expensive than that between Barcelona and Paris (2,250 kilometres or 1,400 miles both ways, 352 euro) is because on this section of the trip we had no other choice than to board a high-speed train. Slower trains on this route have been abolished. We could have taken the bus, but then we wouldn’t make it on time for Christmas dinner.
How can you blame people for flying if there is no affordable alternative?
Of course, we will take the opportunity to spend one long and romantic night in Paris. It makes the trip even longer and more expensive, but to hell with that. You only live once. From Low-tech Magazine, Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année !
© Kris De Decker (edited by Shameez Joubert)
PS December 2013: Things have gotten much worse five years later. Read: “High Speed Trains are Killing the European Railway Network.”
Text on postcard: “Corridor Express, Glasgow and South Western Railway, runs from Glasgow to Carlisle en route for London, 115 miles in 140 minutes, with an average speed, exclusive of stops, of 51 miles per hour. It is composed of corridor carriages of the most modern type, and is equipped with dining accomodation for all classes“. Date unknown, scanned by Low-tech Magazine.
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