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EUROPE'S HIGH-SPEED TRAINS ARE CATCHING UP WITH PLANE TRAVEL

The differences between train and plane travel in Europe are continuing to narrow.

When total travel time is considered, going by high-speed train is becoming as fast as by plane in many places, especially when the train journey is less than five hours.

However, when an airport is linked to downtown by a rail line - as in Brussels, Frankfurt and Zurich - the plane has an extra edge on speed.

Here are some comparisons of travel time and ticket prices, which are substantially lower for round-trip excursions with restrictions than for unrestricted one-way travel.

In addition to actual flight time, airline passengers usually have to allow at least an hour each way to get to and from the airport and another half-hour to check in.

Paris to Geneva: three and a half hours by train, 65 minutes by plane ($89 in first class, one way, by train; $174 round trip by plane with restrictions, $277 one way unrestricted).

Paris to Brussels: two and a half hours by train, 50 minutes by plane ($51 in first class, one way, by train; $147 round trip by plane restricted, $229 one way unrestricted).

Paris to Amsterdam: five hours by train, 65 minutes by plane ($89 in first class, one way, by train; $172 round trip by plane restricted, $259 one way unrestricted).

Paris to Lyons: two hours by train, 55 minutes by plane ($75 in first class, one way, by train; $86 round trip by plane restricted, $134 one way unrestricted).

Zurich to Milan: four hours by train, 50 minutes by plane ($68 in first class, one way, by train; $274 round trip by plane restricted, $267 one way unrestricted).

Milan to Rome: four hours by train, 65 minutes by plane ($70 in first class, one way, by train; $153 by plane, one way, unrestricted).

Frankfurt to Munich: four and a half hours by train, one hour by plane ($93 in first class, one way, by train; $181 round trip by plane restricted, $282 one way unrestricted).

Berlin to Hamburg: four hours by train, 50 minutes by plane ($61 in first class, one way, by train; $113 round trip by plane restricted, $254 one way unrestricted).

Salzburg to Vienna: 2 hours and 40 minutes by train, 45 minutes by plane ($49 in first class, one way, by train; $46 one way by plane unrestricted).

Vienna to Budapest: three and a half hours by train, 45 minutes by plane ($35 in first class, one way, by train; $200 round trip by plane restricted, $196 one way unrestricted).