Peris, France (Urban Transport News): In a major step to reduce carbon footprints and save costly fuels, the French government is planning to ban the flights, along with other short routes that take 2.5 hours or less by a high-speed train. This will also help to shrink the country’s transportation emissions.
Another proposal was also put up on the table that all flights that fly shorter than four hours could have been replaced by train rides, but politicians compromised after pressure from airlines.
The plan was welcomed by UFC-Que Choisir, a French consumer association, which argues that including longer flights would have the most impact on emissions. The association said that plane trips emit an average of 77 times more CO2 per passenger than taking the train on the same routes. It’s also less expensive to take the train than flying, and depending on the time that it takes to get to the airport and wait in line, could conceivably be more convenient.
Other countries are also working on similar policies. The Netherlands, which has an extensive network of trains and has been attempting a ban on short flights since 2013. In 2019, the Dutch government tried to ban short flights between Amsterdam and nearby Brussels, Belgium but ran into challenges because the flights crossed international borders. In Austria, the government introduced a new fee on short flights and banned flight connections that could be replaced with a train journey of three hours or less. After Austrian Airlines got a COVID bailout last year that asked it to cut its carbon footprint, the company replaced a flight route between Vienna and Salzburg with more train service. Some organizations, like the BBC, also ask employees to take the train instead of short flights for business travel.
In the U.S., where it isn’t as easy to jump on a train to quickly get to the next city, it may be harder to make the switch from short flights. But the Biden administration is pushing to invest in rail transport. Last year in March, the US government had allocated $248.5m in grants to fund several state and local railroad infrastructure projects.