Pages in category: Journeys

European Rail News
published on 17 January 2021
Looking back on past train journeys, we often think of a trip as being indelibly associated with a particular book. Paul Scraton recalls some of the volumes which he has taken along on a train ride.
published on 15 December 2020
Paul Scraton reflects on the merits of the journey as he boards the train to wherever. A train journey can be a wonderful stimulus to the imagination.
published on 15 November 2020
Paul Scraton reflects on the appeal of the urban tram as he explores tram routes in Berlin, Sarajevo, Prague and elsewhere. For visitors to a city, the tram is more than merely a way of getting around - it is an invitation to adventure.
published on 16 October 2020
Hop on a local suburban train in order to get a different view of a city. Whether it be your home town or an unfamiliar city, the view from the suburbs will be very different. Paul Scraton explores various expressions of Metroland across Europe.
published on 15 September 2020
Imagine you have an unexpected hour or two at a railway station far from home. What are the ingredients of a pleasing station? Perhaps uplifting architecture, a relaxed café, a decent bookshop and an engaging range of trains to watch. Paul Scraton reflects on the ideal railway station.
published on 16 July 2020
There are proper night trains, the ones with couchettes and sleeping berths. And then there's the more spartan variant of the night train. merely offering passengers a seat for an overnight journey. Paul Scraton joins the 21.48 from Aachen to Berlin and discovers a certain ascetic pleasure as the ICE train rumbles eastward through the night.
published on 15 June 2020
We were travelling to Świnoujście for no other reason than curiosity. Perhaps because of growing up on an island myself, land borders have always fascinated me. The excitement of early Interrail trips was as much the novelty of being able to take the train to another country as it was what I found when I got there.
published on 15 April 2020
Paul Scraton recalls his first European rail adventure back in 1999. Armed with an Interrail pass and the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable and accompanied by two friends, Paul travelled from Zürich to Prague by train. It was the first long rail leg in a European tour.
published on 17 March 2020
What’s the best way to approach your destination? Is it by air? Or on foot? For Paul Scraton only the train can combine both the sweep of a skyline and the thrill of spotting the landmarks that give a place its visual character. Enjoy Paul's reflections on his train journey from Dresden to Prague.
published on 14 November 2014
Each issue of the new European Rail Timetable contains a Route of the Month. These are texts, which highlight the particular appeal of one selected European rail route.
published on 28 January 2013
Amsterdam certainly pulls the crowds and for travellers using InterRail (and Eurail passes) a stop in Amsterdam has become almost a rite of passage. For young travellers from Britain in particular, Amsterdam ranks as an almost compulsory early stop on any round-Europe rail tour. We suggest here an onward journey from Amsterdam south towards Cologne that offers a chance to see the rural landscapes of the Netherlands and nearby parts of Germany.
published on 27 January 2013
If you are bound for Amsterdam from London or Paris and are travelling just for fun, might we suggest an alternative to the fast Thalys connection? Make for Lille and then follow our rural itinerary on through Belgian Flanders and Dutch Zeeland. This route takes in lowland landscapes that inspired Flemish and Dutch artists.
published on 23 November 2011
We drifted slowly through wintry forests, past unkempt meadows and villages full of scrawny desolation. We crossed the River Odra four times. And four times I gazed down at the river's wine-dark waters from the train, watching the waters swirling under bridges, swirling through history. We stopped on a level crossing, inconveniencing no-one, for cars there were none. But that was a fine moment, sunshine tussling with midday mist and for once getting the upper hand.
published on 11 October 2011
The railway platform at Tirana was as full as it ever gets. That meant all of half a dozen people waiting for the dawn train to Pogradec, among them an English gricer and a Polish twitcher. The latter had travelled across Europe to catch a glimpse of rare birds and was bound for Lake Ohrid.
published on 20 September 2011
Travelling across the North European Plain, a vast sweep of two-dimensional terrain that extends from Brussels to Berlin and beyond, travellers might well give thanks for whatever modest hills punctuate their journey. The Harz Mountains barely rise to more than one thousand metres, but seen from the flatlands to the north they appear mightily impressive: great, forested humpbacks that preside over the plains. The highest point is the Brocken, at 1,141 metres the loftiest elevation anywhere in northern Germany.
published on 13 July 2011
Platform Four in Tallinn station: the train to Narva rests in the sunshine. An odd selection of shopping bags, magazines and items of clothing scattered on plastic seats are evidence of people having made a claim on a particular space on the train. One person has left an umbrella, another a melon and a third seat is occupied by a plastic chimpanzee. Their respective owners stand on the platform until it is evident that the train is about to depart.
published on 29 May 2011
You could easily miss Elton. The train from Dublin to Cork speeds past Elton. You hardly catch a glimpse of the cluster of houses that make up this little Irish village. When the grandly titled Great Southern and Western Railway built a line through the district in 1849, they judged Knocklong, just a couple of minutes up the line from Elton, as deserving of a station. So Elton, a little smaller than Knocklong, lost out.
published on 6 May 2011
Are not the finest parts of many long train journeys those fleeting glimpses of a city or a country that you get just prior to arrival at your destination? There is a superb moment on the train journey through Slovakia towards Budapest, a view dominated by the huge basilica at Esztergom.
published on 25 March 2011
"April is the cruellest month," wrote TS Eliot. Not so in southern Sweden, where March can be much crueller than April. This is the season when winter's icy hold on forests and lakes is challenged by slowly rising temperatures. Thick lake ice turns to milky cream, while the thaw makes forests utterly impenetrable.
published on 19 March 2011
Domodossola has sleek trains aplenty. There are great expresses that purr north through the Simplon Tunnel into Switzerland or slide south towards Milan, hugging the west side of Lago Maggiore along the way. But lovers of great scenery and unusual trains head down into the concrete zone, there in the subterranean depths of Domodossola railway station to board the little train that rattles east across the valley and climbs into the hills beyond.
published on 28 February 2011
Chernivtsi's distinctive green-domed railway station gives a hint of the city it serves. It is a stylish station, one that well befits what is a gem among Ukrainian cities. Of course, for many travellers Chernivtsi is merely a place to change trains. There are connections far and wide. But the most interesting train of the day from Chernivtsi is the morning train to Moldova.
published on 1 February 2011
It takes less than four hours to cross Macedonia by train. It is just 250 km from the border with Serbia at Tabanovce to the Greek frontier at Gevgelija. Of course Macedonia deserves more than merely four hours, but that short train journey affords a few insights into one of Europe's least known countries.
published on 6 January 2011
If you like three dimensional landscapes, then Germany's most northerly state of Schleswig-Holstein is probably not for you. The hills are there, but you have to look hard to see them. We took a local train across Schleswig-Holstein last Sunday on a route that happily included the Rendsburg bridge.