Berlin and Munich could run 50 percent more direct trains to European cities

Berlin and Munich could run 50 percent more direct trains to European cities

A new study by Greenpeace has slammed the lack of direct train connections between major European cities. The environmental organisation found that train stations in Munich and Berlin could run twice as many direct international services as today.

Berlin and Munich come second and third in Greenpeace study

There are “almost six times as many direct flight connections between European cities as direct train connections,” a new Greenpeace study has pointed out.

Assessing how well Europeans are connected by direct trains, Vienna (22 direct international connections), Munich (20) and Berlin (19) were found to have the highest number of direct connections across the continent. But the second and third-place rankings leave much room for improvement; the two German cities still only provide half of the possible direct train connections to other European cities.

After Vienna, which hosts 59 percent of possible direct connections - including to Hamburg, Zürich and Warsaw - Munich hosts just 52 percent of possible direct connections and Berlin just 50 percent. Greepeace pointed out that none of the 45 European cities in the study hosts more than 59 percent of the possible direct connections.

According to the organisation, 37 further direct trains could be running out of Munich, and 36 additional connections out of Berlin. Possible connections out of Munich include Valencia, Edinburgh and Naples, and out of Berlin; Ljubljana, Marseille, Oslo and Birmingham.

Hamburg and Cologne fared even worse, with Greenpeace assessing that the cities run only 30 percent of possible direct train connections to other European cities.

Six times as many direct flights as direct trains in Europe

Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe analysed 990 routes between 45 major European cities for the study. The organisation found that direct trains run on only 12 percent of routes, compared to the 69 percent of routes served by direct flights. 

This means there are almost six times as many direct flights as direct train connections - and as Greenpeace points out, on average planes emit five times as many greenhouse gases as trains. Greenpeace argued that one of the major reasons why people choose to fly instead of taking the train is the lack of direct trains. Another recent study by the organisation would suggest price is also a factor, with German trains being 51 percent more expensive than flights, at least in 2023.

Arguing that more needs to be done to facilitate rail travel within Europe, Greenpeace said that of the 990 routes examined, 419 (42 percent) could be easily served by a direct day or night train that would use existing track infrastructure and result in a journey time of fewer than 18 hours.

With Germany’s coalition government currently configuring its budget for 2025, it remains to be seen how much will be afforded to major renovation projects planned for 1.800 train stations and 40 routes on Deutsche Bahn’s dilapidated track network, which for years has been leading to worsening delays.

Thumb image credit: Wakllaff /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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