With Train2EU, we're working to make European rail travel just as easy. But we're a long way from that, so I knew things were not going to be that easy to get to Bratislava. I decided to consider it good research for my work and started figuring out ways to get to Bratislava.
The fastest way to get to Bratislava from the Netherlands is to fly to Prague and change planes there. This is also the worst thing you can do from a CO2-perspective. On short flights, as much as 25 percent of the total fuel consumed is used at this time. The most fuel-efficient route length for airlines is 4,300 kilometers, roughly a flight from Europe to the U.S. East Coast. About 45 percent of all flights in the European Union cover less than 500 kilometers, short hops which are relatively the biggest contributors to climate change, air pollution and noise. No way I’m taking off and landing twice on a single journey, just for a meeting with fellow environmentalists.
Travelling by train was my preferred option. But as a business traveller I have to factor in time. And as a father, I do not want to be away from home too long for work. After taking hours to research all options with impossible departure times, night trains (but no sleepers) taking up to 24 hours, I decided to take a 12 hour train trip by day on my way out to Bratislava. And for my return trip, take a train to Vienna and fly back to Amsterdam from there. That soothed my conscience somewhat, made my family happy that I wouldn’t be taking another day to travel back, and made my boss happy that I could work while on the train ride. But still, it's a short hop flight I had hoped to avoid.
You'll notice that after all this, I haven't mentioned anything about actually booking the tickets. That's because booking international train tickets is, frustratingly, a challenge separate from finding your itinerary. To be continued...
This is part 2 of a series
Save the world, take a train (Bratislava part 1)