As the world's fliers grapples with high oil prices, horrendous baggage fees and new government taxes, it seems that the leisurely, gentle train journey looks set to reap the rewards.Eurail, the company which sells InterRail tickets for train travel around Europe, reported last week that the number of passes it sold to visitors to Europe jumped by 11.9 percent last year, to 427,000.

Interestingly, although there were predictable rises in the number of people buying rail passes from growing markets in Asia, it appears that the biggest jump has been in travelers from South America, where sales were up by a third.

It seems that more people than ever are looking to take the train - even Europeans, often unreservedly critical about their own rail systems, bought 6.2 percent more passes to explore their continent by rail last year.Eurail says that of the one-country passes it sold, Italy's was by far the most popular last year, followed at a distance by Spain and in third place, Austria - France and Germany, with their modern, high-speed rail systems, apparently didn't get a look in the top three.

Souce: The Independent