One third of the busiest short-haul flights in Europe have train alternatives under six hours, according to research by OBC Transeuropa, commissioned by Greenpeace EU.
The research analysed the 150 busiest short-haul flights in the EU and the 250 busiest short haul flights in Europe (EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland) as well as routes involving France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria. Island connections were not analysed except where there is a train connection, like in Sicily.
It found that 34% (51) of the 150 busiest short-haul flights in the EU have train alternatives under six hours, and 29% (73) of the 250 busiest short-haul flights in Europe (EU, Norway, Switzerland and UK) have train alternatives under six hours. Furthermore, only 27% (41) of the 150 busiest EU flights have direct night train alternatives in 2021.
According to a survey conducted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), 62% of Europeans support a ban on short-haul flights. In addition, a large majority of people in Germany (63%), France (72%), Poland (73%), Spain (80%) and the Netherlands (65%) want to take more night trains, at reasonable costs.
Greenpeace has been campaigning for the EU to ban short-haul flights where there is a train alternative under six hours and adopt measures to make daytime and night train alternatives across Europe more accessible.
It calculated that just banning the EU’s busiest short-haul flights and shifting to rail wherever a train connection under six hours already exists would save 3.5 million tons of CO2e (CO2 equivalent) per year.
Flights under 1,500 km are responsible for 25% of European aviation’s CO2 emissions. Although long-haul flights account for the majority of aviation emissions, many short-haul flights can already be replaced by trains, leading to immediate CO2 emission reductions.
“Our analysis shows that one-third of short haul flights have train alternatives under six hours in the EU,” said Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner Lorelei Limousin.
“European policy-makers and countries should ban short-haul flights wherever a viable alternative already exists and invest in rail to create a European transport system that’s good for the planet while also being affordable and accessible to all.”