Global Rail renaissance
Train travel has its own unique challenges, but there are new solutions coming down the line
When it comes to business travel in the US, railroads are seldom the first option that comes to mind. But promising new developments are in the works which may prompt road warriors to raise rail’s profile. Of course passenger rail services have long been highly developed in Europe, and China is rapidly catching up. But even within North America, the benefits of rail are becoming more apparent.
Certainly rail development is a hugely expensive proposition, and change comes slowly. But even setting aside future possibilities such as Elon Musk’s high velocity tube train, current improvements in technology and infrastructure are bringing enhanced options for business travelers.
“Especially in Europe and also in Asia, there is significant development going on,”says Tom Drexler, director of rail and ground travel at Amadeus, a provider of IT solutions for the global travel and tourism industry. “Countries are investing a lot of money in high-speed infrastructure and other improvements.” The results may make rail more attractive than it has been in the past.
Acknowledging that air is clearly dominant, Drexler says that when it comes to some connections getting from Point A to Point B, rail can actually be the preferred option.“Rail is a really serious alternative to air travel,”he says“It’s something that has to be put on the radar screen of people managing business travel.”
Along with adding routes and fielding higher-speed trains, the industry is developing supporting technology that is playing a big part in improving the rail travel picture. The continued development in standardized digital infrastructure is bringing new levels of efficiency to global rail, according to Ami Taylor, senior director, global travel management and account development at SilverRail Technologies. “For the first time, this makes it significantly easier and simpler to plan, book and pay for rail travel bookings from anywhere to anywhere,”Taylor says.