Is traveling slowly a luxury, economist?
Strolling Economist meets Accidental Photographer / #10
E: Look, photographer, I'll compete with you.
P: You’ve made a video of a train departure. Nice.
E: Not just any train departure. A night train departure. And not any night train departure. The departure of the maiden voyage of the first European Sleeper from Berlin to Brussels.
P: European Sleeper?
E: A startup railway company that launched the first direct sleeper train between Berlin and Brussels in more than a decade on Thursday.
P: I heard night trains are on the rise again.
E: They are. While Europe was widely interconnected by night trains until the end of the 20th century, connections decreased dramatically in the past two decades. But the past couple of years have seen the launch of many new overnight routes across the continent. Look at this beautiful night train map of Back-on-track, a European network promoting cross-border passenger rail travel!
P: I didn't know you are a real train fan, economist. I would have thought you were more of the aviator guy who quickly wants to get from A to B.
E: That has its advantages, too. But if I can afford the luxury, I'd rather travel slowly. I love the calm that can set in when you look out the train window at a constantly changing scenery, but somehow everything stays the same.
P: Traveling slowly is a luxury? Wasn't it the other way around? That the people want to travel faster, that they pay more the faster they can travel?
E: Fast travel used to be a privilege, but now slow travel is. When it comes to long-distance travel, alternatives to the fastest means of transport, the plane, are often more expensive. Also, slow travel takes time, time many people don't have because they have to work, have to earn money.
P: I understand. You have to afford the free time.
E: Exactly. Fortunately, people have more and more time. Since the industrial revolution, people have split productivity gains for more income and more free time. In the past, someone like me, with an average income, could not afford long trips and wouldn't have the time for them.
P: How much does a ride on the European Sleeper cost?
E: From Berlin to Brussels, around 130 Euro.
P: Seems a fair price.
< silence >
P: Hey, economist.
P: Haven't you always wanted to go to Brussels?
E: I would like to.
P: Maybe one day we'll buy two night train tickets.
E: We wouldn't have to sleep in the same compartment, would we?
P: We wouldn't have to.
E: I am just asking.
P: You are just asking, economist. Another thing.
E: What else?
P: Please record the next train departure in landscape, ok?
E: If you say so.
P: I say so.
Yesterday I’ve released a podcast episode with Elmar the managing director of European Sleeper: