Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

What's more reliable - train or plane in European Winter

What's more reliable - train or plane in European Winter

Apr 4th, 2011, 02:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 35
What's more reliable - train or plane in European Winter

We are on a tight itinerary this winter and would like to avoid (where possible) any delays or cancellations to our travel plans.

Just wondering what fellow travellers opinions are regarding train versus plane travel in countries like Poland, Czech, Austria etc - where there is a fairly high possibility of snow??

What is less likely to be affected by bad weather?

Thanks in advance!
EllaViv is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
With last winter as witness trains roll when planes do not.

lots of flexibility but nice trains centre to centre for me.

seat61.com usually just jump on pretty cheap.

insuremytrip.com always wise particularly in the

north in winter.

Have fun,
qwovadis is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,188
if travelling in and between the 3 countries you mention,then definately the train is your best option.no airport delays,no being there 2 hours before travelling,no security ,more room,no restrictions on luggage or what you can carry in it,city center to city center,all in all a much more pleasant experience.
unclegus is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 04:45 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,006
What do you mean by winter? Many of the transport systems of northern Europe were severely affected by bad weather over the recent Christmas and New Year. At other times, everything ran smoothly. You may be lucky, you may be unlucky. You should be OK in November or from February onwards, but there is no certainty.
chartley is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,668
Short haul flights in Europe typically avearge 63%-68% on time or within 15 minutes.

High-speed trains typically achieve 90%+ on time or within 15 minutes, with Eurostar (London to Paris & Brussels) achieving over 95%, Thalys (Paris to Brussels & Amsterdam) about 93%, Spain's AVE a remarkable 99%.

That's without snow.

In December 2010, our overnight Stena Line superferry to the Netherlands for Christmas pulled away from Harwich quayside spot on time with us watching the BBC news on our in-cabin satellite TV about Heathrow airport being closed due to snow and all flights cancelled.

Flights were still all cancelled a few days later when we hopped on a Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris for a business meeting I had. We arrived an hour late, but the meeting took place! The return Thalys to Amsterdam next day was only 20 mins late, with heathrow flights still grounded.

Later, Dublin airport closed due to snow. Trains and ferries still ran!

Days later
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 09:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,991
Like Chartley says trains can well be effected as well - though not as much as planes - especially with the volcano aspect!

But for a few weeks around this last Xmas there was chaos on trains in northern Europe.

and one January day in 2009 when I was in Germany many trains were cancelled and I had to scramble to get a bus - yes a bus back to Holland where Dutch trains were running.

So nothing is assured by train more reliable than plane.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
There are no guarantees n the face of a major blizzard - but trains are much less likely to be affected by normal snows than are airports.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,668
There's also an interesting difference in the way passengers are handled when a plane or train is cancelled due to snow or whatever.

If a train is cancelled, it's annoying, but you simply get on the next one, even if it's crowded, and you get there with a delay. It's first come, first served, as it were. You're first in the queue for the next train that runs, ahead of anyone who turns up after you.

If your plane is cancelled, you're stuffed. You do not have the right to catch the next flight, because it's the people who are booked on that flight who get priority, even through you were here first! If the following flights are full, you could be waiting ages (days, even, at peak times) to be reaccommodated on a flight with space.

This happened at Christmas last year, when a lot of air passengers who were affected by the cancellations were still waiting at the airport for a flight days later after flights resumed, when people who turned up for flights after them were being put on their booked flight as normal. It upset a lot of people!
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2011, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 304
There are just no guarantees with the weather. I was in Germany and Austria for three weeks over Christmas - I was lucky - arrived in Frankfurt just a couple of days after the airport reopened with the pre Christmas snow storms, I caught many many trains through Germany, and two internal flights between Germany and Austria, and no problems whatsoever (just missed one regional train in Germany - it was no big deal and it wasn't because of the weather). There was lots of snow when I was there. I was a bit worried about it, but everything turned out fine for me. I was one of the lucky ones. I don't think you would have too much trouble if you planned most of your travel around the trains rather than flights.
nz101 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:08 PM.