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US business travelers love to travel by train while abroad

25 April, 2007

More and more business travelers from the United States are using the train during trips overseas, especially the high-speed rail service in Europe, China and Japan.

However, these very same US travelers do not favor taking the train in the United States except along the Northeast Corridor, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune.

shinkansen train

Most US travelers declare that trains in Europe “run like a clock; they are nice and clean and fast and the rail employees are very helpful to the Americans.”

In contrast to the stress and confusion of airline travel, rail trips can be both efficient and relaxing, travelers attest. The rail passengers also have the chance of mingling and talking with fellow passengers while viewing scenery through the windows.

Bill Connors, chief operating officer of the National Business Travel Association, a US trade group, say that, more than ever, virtually all the big global companies use trains worldwide. This is because, he adds, the train takes a lot of hassle out of going to airports.

Railways offer services that make it easier for a travelers to do business while moving from one city to another.

Fabrice Morel, chief executive of Rail Europe, a marketing group, says Europe’s first-class cars on most high-speed routes are geared to cater to corporate travelers, complete with trays for laptops, open or private tables for small meetings, and Wi-Fi.

Speed is one of the major attractions for train travel. The trains of France’s famous Train ŕ Grande Vitesse (TGV) run at 180 miles per hour (290 kilometres per hour). That is about as fast as a commercial airliner on takeoff.

Europe’s expanding high-speed network is redefining short-haul travel, according to Guillaume Pepy, chief executive of the National Society of French Railroads, the French rail system. Recently, a TGV train set a speed record at 357 miles per hour on test tracks.

The French rail system plans to launch high-speed service in June 2007 between Paris and Frankfurt that will cut travel time by nearly half on tracks used both by French TGVs and Germany’s fast Inter-City Express.

In China, new magnetic-levitation train shuttles between Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and Shanghai’s downtown area, at about 240 miles per hour during the eight-minute trip. A high-speed line between Beijing and Shanghai is scheduled to open in 2010.

For trips between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s business capital, corporate travelers have been, for years, able to book a seat on one of the many Shinkansen ‘bullet trains’ that travel at 180 mph.

In 2007 itself, South Korea is introducing its own bullet trains on the Seoul- Busan business route.

An estimated 4.5 million American business travelers  visit Western Europe each year, according to Rail Europe. Many of these travelers  say they use airlines for longer hops, for instance, from Paris to Warsaw, and trains for distances of up to 200 miles.

The Eurostars, which connect London with Paris and Brussels under the English Channel, are widely considered to be the premier business trains in Europe. Last year, Eurostars carried nearly eight million passengers.




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