How European train travel can be made easier and more affordable

Erasmus Magazine
Dennis Huisman
Erasmus School of Economics

‘I don’t think that it’s true that air travel is given more favourable conditions than train travel.’ In a recent article of Erasmus Magazine, Dennis Huisman, Professor of Public Transport Optimisation at Erasmus School of Economics and fan of travelling by train, discusses in which ways European train travel may be rendered less expensive and less complicated.

Travelling by train or by air?

Many people seem to think that train journeys are relatively complicated, expensive, and slow compared to flying. However, Huisman argues that for journeys of about five hundred kilometres journey times are very comparable to flying. For more far away destinations, the equation changes due to longer travel times. for shorter trips to far away destinations train journeys may thus be too time-consuming relative to the time spent at the destination.


Huisman does not believe that air travel is given more favourable conditions than train travel, since both means of travel are subsidized with public funding. Air travel is subsidized in that, among other things, no VAT is charged on tickets and no excise levied on kerosine. However, the infrastructure in most countries is also paid for by taxpayers.


European train travel is facing several challenges which are discussed in the article. Such as the implementation of one pan-European control system, creating optimal European timetables and a higher level of efficiency regarding equipment.

More business travellers

Huisman concludes with a positive note for train travellers. He notices that more and more business travellers are travelling by train. Since business travellers are willing to pay a mark-up for added room and luxury, they indirectly finance the cheaper tickets sold to tourists.

More information

You can read the full article from Erasmus Magazine, 3 February 2022, here

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