If the prospect of air travel is no longer alluring for security, environmental or other reasons, check in at www.seat61.com, an online travelogue that has evolved into an information bank on alternatives to air.

While it might seem a trainspotters' treasure trove, Mark Smith - the man in seat 61 who runs the site as a hobby alongside his day job for a UK rail regulator - is driven by a passion for variety in travel and concern for the impact that aviation is having on the climate.

I don't claim to be a green activist - I just love travel, he said by telephone. It's like people who love food, you don't always want to eat the same thing every day. Air - it's the burger and chips of travel!

With timetable details and pictures, the site gives tips on getting the best fares on mainly rail options globally, from Albania to Zimbabwe.

Smith argues that air travelers are denying themselves the rich experience of changing cultures along their journey - and says on some routes, trains can compete with air for speed, efficiency and comfort.

Smith said many business travelers in Europe prefer the train on a Paris-Geneva run, and some use the train hotel on Paris-Madrid or Paris-Barcelona routes.

But UK business travelers face an institutional problem in choosing rail - many travel agents receive commission on flights only.

Of the 8,000 or so daily page views his site receives, Smith said the initial interest was from people who cannot fly for medical reasons or who are afraid of flying.

But a fresh wave of environmentally concerned travelers recently joined in.

And as security alerts and cumbersome procedures add to the constraints on air travel, visits to the site are increasing.

For Fulvio, one of thousands of signatures in the site's guest book, seat61 is the site I was waiting for (Il sito che stavo aspettando). Sicong Chen says: Amazing to find such an useful site on internet. It gives me a new picture about rail in 21st century.

Smith, who named the site after his favorite first-class seat on the Eurostar trains linking Britain to continental Europe, answers about 20 emails a day from people seeking tips on international train routes, many of them Americans.

He has received enough income from commissions and advertising sales to buy a laptop to keep the site going on his daily commute, and has been asked to write a column for a UK daily.

But he is not, as yet, free to give up the day job - or the travel.