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How safe is travelling on European rail networks for solo travellers, including overnight trains? Obviously, the usual precautions of being more mindful of belongings when travelling solo need to be kept in mind. I'd also reckon that Western and Northern Europe would be relatively safer, but this is just an assumption.

What I'm specifically looking for is information or a resource that logs crime statistics for thefts, muggings, et al that happen on trains - across Europe, if possible but country-specific guides would also be useful. If this is not available, anecdotal or otherwise security information on any stretches of European rail networks to be careful about would also be helpful.

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I don't know whether I'm being paranoid. I'd never ask the same question about safety of travelling by trains in Asia! –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 22 '12 at 0:48
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Just a bit of my personally experience. I've ridden overnight trains quite a bit and never had anything bad happen. Worse thing that ever happened to me was someone nicked my rail pass and I had to pan-handle to get enough cash for a bus to the nearest ATM. I have, however, had several problems on trains in the good ol' USA. –  Ginamin Jan 22 '12 at 2:54

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It is, in my opinion, quite safe to travel by train in all parts of Europe. Depending on the country (and the route), you always have an option of locking your stuff to the shelves above your seat (or berth). I never had any trouble traveling by train in Europe.

The only thing that I encountered in my travels was not a problem for me but it might be for others and that is that there are often young drunk people getting on the train so if you want some peace and quiet, they would probably disturb you. If not, join them, they're almost always friendly and ready to accept travel/drinking buddies. (This is usually in cabins, not in sleeper class. Also, it almost exclusively occurs on weekends, Thursday to Sunday.)

Your assumption that train travel outside Western/Northern Europe is unsafe is completely wrong. Train travel in Balkan countries (I'm from Croatia and travel almost exclusively by train in my country) is very popular and a lot of people enjoy it. People you meet are almost always quite friendly and helpful and will look after your stuff in a cabin if you get to know them. Don't want to be prejudicial but if you want a fellow traveler to look after your things, aim for older females, solo travelers or people you made a connection with by exchanging stories.

Also, although no one will steal your stuff, you mustn't forget your things on board a train even if you're getting off at the last station since almost no one is taking those to the lost and found office (and some stations don't actually have any). That's how I lost my fishing poles a few years back. Besides, that same train you arrived with can be scheduled to leave in a short while so you won't be able to check the train yourself.

Hope this helped...

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Statistics could provide a overview, but you can use common sense here.
Imagine you are a criminal.

How likely are you committing a crime in a location where (with very few exceptions) help is always in vicinity, you are always outnumbered (if you have no followers like e.g. football ultras), escape is difficult (no, you cannot jump at high speeds so emergency breaks are the only option, alarming everyone on the train) and there is no place to hide ?

Not very much.
If you look at the crimes happening in trains, they are really rare. What is happening are personal crimes when the train is nearly deserted, assaults/vandalism/gang crime if there are many aggressors (granted, could happen with football ultras) and else opportunity crimes like theft.

So, train rides are one of the safest modes of transportation in most countries, especially in Europe.

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I've never looked up the statistics, but I spent this summer traveling Europe on a rail pass and took some overnight trains too. They are completely safe, with the exception of theft. Not that you'd get hurt, but you could lose your valuables.

Keep your valuables in a safe place. I saw someone's bag get stolen because he left it on the rack above his seat - not a good idea. Other than theft, they are entirely safe.

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