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Hi-speed train EU

Hi-speed train: same travelling time, less GHG

Aviation is not the only means of international transport. Travel to nearby destinations of up to some 800 km within Europe can take place by hi-speed trains (and 1,200 km by super hi-speed trains) at equal or less travelling times.

Concerning the use of Hi-speed rail, the EC has a relevant policy, being to promote the use of hi-speed trains to replace short-haul flights within the EU (White Paper on Transport 2010 pages 40 and 51). These rail networks could be integrated with the air networks of the EU-hubs, to offer an extra capacity to the hubs which already are at the maximum use of their runway capacities. The present White Paper is not very detailed about this potential, but that could be changed in the light of the increasing GHg emissions of EU aviation.

The Hi-speed network in the EU has an enormous capacity to accommodate millions of intercontinental transfer passengers at the connected large airports. If organised well, the runway capacity of airports does not need to be expanded, which will enable the aviation industry to actually decrease the GHG emissions in the EU. The Hi-speed rail network could accommodate the growth of the international transport market demand during decades. Hi-speed trains would be utilised far more intensively, which will improve the exploitation and lower the fares which are presently somewhat high.

Another great advantage is that hi-speed trains cause 17 times less warming than airplanes per passenger km. Unlike airplanes they will be almost fully climate-neutral in a few decades, if powered by fully renewable electricity. The difference is getting bigger and bigger. On top of that the pan-European transport system will not be subject to the price effects of oil becoming scarcer. Flying within West-Europe should be urgently discussed.

Download the report Aviation and climate in the EU.
Only read the Summary for policy makers (1 page)

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