The other day we reported on a whizzy new Transport for London tool which allowed you to create isochrone maps: maps which use colour to plot travel times from any point in London. It's really, really cool.
London, though, is not the world, and Peter Kerpedjiev, a PhD student at the University of Vienna has isochrones on a much bigger scale than that. On his blog Empty Pipes, you'll find a tool in which you can plot how long it'll take you to get from various European cities to any other point on the continent, “using only trains and walking at a brisk rate of 5 min / kilometre".
Caveats first. The data is inevitably incomplete. Some rail routes are missing; so are some entire countries (look at Ireland or Spain), simply because the data wasn't available in a useful format. And 5 minutes per kilometre is about 7.5 miles per hour, which is pretty bloody brisk. Oh, also there are things called planes these days.
But, as Kerpedjiev himself puts it:
Everything is an estimate. Rounding errors abound. Don't use this for anything but entertainment and curiosity. But you already know that.
Fair enough. So, with that out of the way, let's see how far you can get, using nothing by a train and the power of your own limbs.
From London, chunks of northern France and the Benelux nations are now more accessible than much of Scotland. Which frankly explains rather a lot:
Zoom in, and you can see that it's quicker to commute to London from Lille than from large parts of East Anglia:
Paris, perhaps unsurprisingly, is better connected for France and western Germany. Get east of Frankfurt, though, and things don't actually look all that different:
From Rome, it'll take you at least six hours just to get out of Italy:
Brussels is really well connected for basically anywhere in north western Europe:
The Baltics are well connected for basically nowhere. This is Riga:
They're not even well-connected to each other. Check out Tallinn:
Stockholm is a bit out of the way, too.
Even Berlin is surprisingly time-consuming to get to – which is funny, when you remember that that is where so much of the power in Europe lies:
Basically, if you're the sort of person who needs to travel but is frightened of planes, you're much better off being somewhere near the English Channel or the Rhine. Like Frankfurt:
Incidentally, if you were wondering why the colours get so tightly bunched around the coastlines, Kerpedjiev's blog explains:
Any points on water were assigned a swimming rate of 100 minutes / kilometre.
Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.