If you grew up like I did, hearing about all the wonderful adventures to be had traveling across Europe on the trains. Years ago, jumping from country to country on the trains was the easiest and safest way to travel throughout Europe. You are probably still thinking that it is something that you should do.
You could be absolutely correct about that, but there are a few issues that you should consider. No matter what you have heard from people who have travelled the European train system in the past, today’s reality is certainly different than even a few years ago. We have all heard stories on the news about terrorist attacks on trains in various countries.
For example, train passengers in Paris stopped and restrained a gunman attempting a terrorist attack.
Are the Trains in Europe and United Kingdom Safe?
In general, it could be said that taking trains throughout the UK and Europe is safer now than it has been in the past, but there are still a few issues to be aware of. Some of the relative safety comes from more stringent checks at borders and a wider reach for security forces. There is a lot more surveillance than there once was, which helps deter a lot of would-be crime. But the trains are not smothered in eyes, which makes it possible for some seedy activity to still exist.
You see a difference in how the different countries handle security, and those differences can largely be attributed to the unique threats within that particular country. Some border crossings, for example, can take longer than others for one reason or another. But the added layers of security are supposed to make things safer, so we shouldn’t complain.
There is not much you, as a passenger, can do to avoid these dangers, but by going on the more commonly travelled routes decreases the already small chances of experiencing any safety issues.
Overall safety statistics regarding trains in Europe and the UK show that the UK is one of the safest systems that you can use in terms of accidents and fatalities. Passenger fatalities are lowest in the UK and most other Western European states. This includes accidents, derailments, and all other mishaps.
When it comes to dangers from other people, there are some issues. From theft to burglary to terrorism to drug trafficking, and everything in between, some train stations in Europe have more trouble than others in handling threats. The best rule to live by if you are unsure, is to stick with the crowd and keep your belongings close at hand. It may be tempting to take that walk around the neighborhood surrounding the train station by yourself. But if you are by yourself, it is not always the best plan.
How to Stay Safe
In this day and age, it is crucial to mind a few basic rules of personal safety in every aspect of our lives. There are threats coming from many different angles, but they are avoidable if you know how to be proactive.
Keep in mind that you should always know where you are. If you are traveling in the UK, you need to pick up a London Mainline Stations Map. If you are travelling in any of the other countries throughout Europe, get a clear map that shows the train lines and stations.
Keep in mind that as you travel on the trains, you are surrounded by strangers. Being among people you have never met before is not inherently bad in any way. It is actually part of the beauty of traveling, as you get the chance to meet people from many different countries and backgrounds.
Unfortunately, being surrounded by strangers also comes with its share of risk. Most of the danger that you can experience on the trains comes from people trying to get something you have. For that reason, keep all your valuables out of sight. The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” rings very true. By making sure that you are not flashing tempting items everywhere you go certainly lowers your chances of being robbed.
Also, make sure your belongings are safe while you sleep. You can either get a room by yourself on the train (a decision that you pay a lot for), or you can work out a way to sleep with your valuables. Your money, passport, phone, and anything else that you can’t live without should get wrapped up and be brought to bed with you. If you are feeling especially uncomfortable, you can even tie the pack of valuables to a wrist to make sure no one can make off with them without your knowing about it.
Other than keeping your items safe, it is important to keep yourself safe. People are everywhere, and the same rules apply to your interactions with them while you travel that you would follow at home. It is pretty easy to get up in the excitement of the travel experience and when that happens, it becomes easier to see people in a different way. Remind yourself periodically that not everyone is meant to be your friend, and don’t give too much to anyone before understanding a few things about them.
If taking the train is your decided adventure, have no fear. There are many ways to still have a memorable and safe train journey to all the magical destinations that Europe has to offer. You only need to adhere to a few best practices, and there should be nothing but fun in front of you. Have you traveled through the Alps on a train or through Germany’s Bavarian region? Why not plan your next train trip through Europe?