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Train travel in Europe is on the upswing, thanks to growing interest from travelers, a renaissance in sleeper trains, and new investments in high-speed rail lines across the continent. But to see major growth in passenger traffic — which is one of the goals of the European Green Deal — the continent’s railways will have to overcome a number of challenges, including booking difficulties and competition with short-haul flights, which remain the cheaper option on many multicountry routes.

In France and Austria, the pandemic brought the planes-vs.-trains question to the forefront. The French government’s COVID-19 bailout package of Air France required the airline to eliminate domestic flights when there was a rail option that took under 2½ hours to complete; the measure was later written into law.

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