Continental train booking ‘too complex’

05 March 2009

A report from the ‘ethical tourism’ organisation Responsible Travel suggests that it is not only the domestic fare structure that causes problems for potential passengers. The organisation says that booking tickets to the Continent on the internet is so complex that many people are likely to give up rather than book tickets.


A panel was asked to search for and simulate booking for return plane and train tickets on the internet to the European cities of Barcelona, Rome, Brussels and Munich. Despite a 98% success rate for booking plane tickets, only 13 of the 40 journeys (33%) were successfully booked by train, meaning 27 (67%) journeys could not be booked.

For those who were able to book, it took almost double the amount of time to book a train ticket (average time = 11.9 minutes) as it did to book a flight (average time = 6.6 minutes).


Justin Francis from the company says that to reduce our carbon emissions we need to start travelling more by train and less by plane in Europe – but claims that the exercise shows that European rail travel is ‘ infuriatingly difficult to book from the UK’.


‘If we are going to work together for a lower carbon future for travel and tourism, more straightforward booking is an essential part of the solution.’

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