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It’s official: taking a sleeper train could be cheaper than flying

The advantages of sleeper trains make a strong case against air travel, according to a new study

Beril Naz Hassan
Written by
Beril Naz Hassan

There are many reasons why travelling by sleeper trains is more attractive than a plane journey. The onboarding process is more straightforward, the baggage limits are more realistic, the atmosphere feels cosier, you get to have a restful snooze being lulled to sleep by the train’s motions, and your body doesn't end up suffering from hours of cabin pressure. Oh, and you never need to go near an airport transfer shuttle bus ever again.

But don’t just take it from us: Which? Travel has now found that as well as being more environmentally friendly, sleeper trains are also more affordable than hopping on a jet. They studied the cost of air travel versus train travel for five sleeper train routes, with a variety of group sizes. Two were in the UK – the Night Riviera from London to Cornwall, and the Caledonian Sleeper from London to the Highlands of Scotland. The remaining three routes were in Europe: Paris to Vienna, Brussels to Vienna and London to Berlin.

Their findings showed that, while flights may initially seem a lot cheaper, they become more expensive when you add in the cost of baggage and an extra night’s accommodation. If a family of four chose trains over planes, they could save around £100. For a bigger family, the savings would jump to over £250.

Talking about the findings, Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: ‘Many of us want to reduce our carbon footprint by swapping the plane for the train, but price remains a barrier. While new sleeper train routes have launched across Europe, fares are prohibitive for many travellers.

‘Our research found solo travellers and couples would have to pay significantly more to choose the train over the plane. But the good news is that there are savings to be made for families and larger groups who can share train compartments.’ 

As if that weren’t enough, the study also found that plane journeys were found to emit up to seven times more CO2 per passenger than sleeper trains. Large quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere cause it to heat up, aggravating the climate crisis. So there it is: by taking the train, you’re saving money and the planet. All aboard!

Did you hear about the new sleeper trains that could be linking Paris and Edinburgh?

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