Passengers wait for the high-speed train to Milan, Italy, from Modane station in the French Alps on September 24, 2022. DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images
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There’s something about taking the form. The slow pace, the observation car where you get a panoramic view of treesrolling fields and rivers while reading and munching a snack. Riding the train allows you to see the countryside from your starting point to your destination, not just getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
A new Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe study found that people looking for travel options in Europe are encouraged to fly instead of train due to an “unfair competitive advantage” for the Airlines companiesa press release from green peace said.
Greenpeace’s report looked at train and plane ticket costs on 112 European routes at nine different times. He found that, on average, train tickets were twice as expensive as flight tickets, with some routes being astronomically more expensive. For example, the cost of a train ticket from London to Barcelona was 30 times higher than a plane ticket.
“One of the reasons people choose to travel by air rather than by train is the price: why would someone take the train from London to Barcelona and pay up to €384 when plane tickets are available at the ridiculously low price of €12.99? Citizens deserve access to a clean, efficient and affordable transport system that does not harm the climatepeople and our planet,” the report says.
Even though flying is far worse for the planet than traveling by train, airlines don’t have to pay tax on kerosene, the main component of jet fuel, the press release said. There is no equivalent exemption for railways.
“Airlines enjoy outrageous tax benefits. Planes pollute a lot more than trains, so why are people encouraged to fly? Low-cost airlines, in particular, have exploited every loophole and trick in the book. €10 plane tickets are only possible because others, like workers and taxpayers, are paying the real price,” Greenpeace EU climate campaigner Lorelei Limousin said in the press release.
Of the routes examined for the study, 18 were national and 94 crossed national borders. On 71% of routes, flights were cheaper than train tickets. Only 23 routes were “almost always” cheaper to do by train than by plane.
Of the routes surveyed, 79% were operated by low-cost airlines, which “are in most cases cheaper than rail thanks to their unfair and aggressive pricing strategies,” the press release said.
“In short: if you fly, you are subsidized; if you take the train, you are penalized by higher prices – as well as the fact that the journey is often longer,” said Stefan Goesslingprofessor at Linnaeus University in Sweden who has studied flight emissions, as reported by The Guardian.
In Europe, aviation as a producer of greenhouse gas emissions increased by 29% between 2009 and 2019, the fastest growing source in Europe in recent decades, according to the press release.
Greenpeace encourages European governments to introduce climate tickets to be used for all means of public transport in a designated country or region, adding that they must be compatible with a climate ticket for international use. Revenues from climate tickets could be funded through the phasing out of airline subsidies, a “fair taxation system based on CO2 emissions” and taxes on windfall profits.
“For the sake of the planet and people, politicians must act to reverse the situation and make the train the most affordable option, otherwise we will only see more and more heat waves like the one currently wreaking utter havoc in Spain, ItalyGreece and elsewhere,” Limousin said in the press release.