Rarely is the train a substitute for airplane economy

It’s a debate everyone knows by now — on business trips or before going on vacation: should it be a plane, or can’t you also take the more climate-friendly train? On the famous Berlin-Frankfurt route, for example, a flight passenger is responsible for 127 kilograms of greenhouse gases, while a rail passenger is responsible for just under 11 kilograms.

In light of these differences, green candidate Annalena Barbock introduced the ban on short trips during the election campaign. But this requirement soon disappeared from the Green Party’s election campaign. Because anyone who travels a lot knows: the train is sometimes a good alternative – but often not, not yet. Greenpeace has calculated this in detail: for 150 important routes within the European Union they can be reached in 1-2 hours by plane, but also by train. The upshot: Sometimes rail travel is fine, but in a number of cases, a general ban on short trips can make travel nearly impossible.

A third of these connections can be made by train in less than six hours – this is the acceptable and competitive travel time for Greenpeace, for example Amsterdam – Paris (3:23 hours), Paris – Frankfurt (3:50 hours) or Venice – Naples (5:23). 10 hours). The organization calls for the necessity of banning flights on all these routes. Especially on 21 out of 150 important travel trips where the train takes less than four hours, such as Madrid – Barcelona (2:30 hours). The survey shows that on 23 routes, a traveler will be on the road for more than 16 hours.

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Overland travel has become more difficult as international train lines become increasingly vulnerable, and Greenpeace criticizes after reviewing all timetables. subordinate Eurostar For example, it significantly reduced the underground trains between Great Britain and France. Buses now only operate between Sweden and Norway. And on the Frankfurt-Lyon route, an important connecting hub between Germany and France, there is only one direct train per day – an example of how passengers going from one plane to another have to factor in onerous transportation expenses. At least, night train connections are becoming more attractive again: Vienna-Paris and Zurich-Amsterdam start in December.

Lufthansa has canceled at least the Nuremberg route to Munich

By the way, according to Greenpeace, Germany bears “the greatest responsibility” for air traffic in Europe: a third of the 150 most used EU routes end or start in this country. For many, the travel time when using the train is less than six hours – in the Frankfurt-Berlin example, it is 3 hours 54 minutes. And from downtown to downtown, without checking in, without waiting at the gate and without using the S-Bahn, they assure the EPA. This, in turn, coincides with the position of the Federal Ministry of Transport, formerly headed by Andreas Scheuer (CSU): there they do not want to ban domestic flights, but want to reduce them through improved communications and financial incentives. Indeed, from next year, investment funds in railways will for the first time be higher than those on the road (9.3 billion euros compared to 8.3 billion euros), and the sales tax for long-distance train tickets has been reduced to seven percent, on the other hand. I raised the air traffic tax a little bit.

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By the way, Lufthansa has already responded in one case: the Munich-Nuremberg connection within Bavaria was canceled this summer – but the alternative clearly shows the difficulty: a fast bus now operates between the two airports because there are still no express trains that stop at Munich Airport that the airline constantly criticizes. After all, this alternative is also relatively environmentally friendly: a domestically operated plane emits 214 grams of climate-damaging greenhouse gases per kilometer of travel. The car still weighs 154 grams – a long-distance train or long-distance bus, on the other hand, is only 29 grams.

Despite these differences and ongoing debates, aviation is less responsible for climate change than some might assume. Global air traffic contributes 3.5 percent to global warming through carbon dioxide, jets or soot, as much as it is caused by humans, a large international study involving the German Aerospace Center showed a year ago. The most dangerous factors are the generation of electricity and heat from coal, gas, and oil, and burning of gasoline and diesel while driving.


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