With the University’s ambitious new Sustainable Travel Principles committing to cutting carbon emissions from European train travel by 60% by 2026, I am sharing my recent experience of taking the train to Germany to visit friends in the beautiful town of Mayen in west Germany, a little south of Cologne.
Travelling with my wife on Easter Saturday, we caught the 08:35 from Reading station to London St Pancras. We’re well-practised at European train travel, so knew that the (poorly advertised) “London International CIV” ticket is the best-priced ticket to connect with Eurostar. There’s loads more helpful hints for international train travel at the excellent https://www.seat61.com/
We arrived at St Pancras an hour later, taking the Circle Line from Paddington, rather than the slower option of using the Elizabeth Line and needing to change at Farringdon. This was a little early for our 11:04 departure to Brussels, but it was particularly busy, being a bank holiday weekend. The train both left and arrived on the dot; at 14:05 (just over 2 hours, with the time difference). With our next train leaving for Cologne at 14:25, we were a little worried about missing our connection, but needn’t have worried as it was specifically announced as we approached Brussels, so clearly a well-planned route, leaving from the next platform along. Another perfectly-scheduled train saw us arrive in Cologne just over 2 hours later, exactly 7 hours after leaving Reading.
The final leg of our journey saw a further change at Andernach before arriving in Mayen at 18:10, just in time for dinner and 8½ hours after leaving Reading (our friends live 5 minutes from the station).
The journey time is only a little longer than flying, which would have needed us to drive to Stansted, park and catch a bus in time for 2 hours’ check-in, the flight itself to Frankfurt Hahn (around 90 minutes) and then connection to an hour’s bus journey at the other end.
Taking the train reduced our carbon emissions by around 90%, there’s no turbulence, no baggage check-in, good legroom and you actually get to see and experience some of the countries you are travelling through!