– On these roads, the train is a good alternative to the plane
The environmental organization calculated any air connections in Europe could easily be replaced by trains. For example Zurich – Geneva or Geneva – Paris.
It’s a debate everyone knows by now — on business trips or before holidays: should it be a plane, or can’t you also take the more climate-friendly train? Greenpeace wanted to get to the heart of this question and commissioned a study. The goal was to find out which routes the train would be a good alternative to, and where travelers still needed to get on the plane to reach their destination in a reasonable amount of time.
The research center OBC Transeuropa examined the 250 most frequently used flight routes in Europe on behalf of Greenpeace. This also includes connections to and from Switzerland.
And at least for the Swiss connections examined, the train seems to be a viable alternative: for the Zurich-Geneva route, the train takes 2:41 hours. However, nearly 623,000 passengers traveled this distance by plane in the 2019 period under review.
The train journey from Geneva to Paris takes 3:08 hours and therefore should also be a good alternative to the plane. 1,059,000 passengers saw it differently and boarded the plane.
Both routes meet Greenpeace standards with an acceptable and competitive travel time of less than six hours by train. This also applies to a number of common European connections – such as Amsterdam – Paris (3:23 hours), Paris – Frankfurt (3:50 hours) or Venice – Naples (5:10 hours). Overall, there is an alternative by train for 29 percent of the routes examined, which take less than six hours. On all of these routes, Greenpeace is calling for flights to be banned.
However, the train does not run well everywhere: on 43 routes, the survey showed that travelers would be on the road for more than 16 hours if there were no flights. There is no train connection for six other people.
Bad international train connections
Overland travel has become more difficult as international train lines become increasingly vulnerable, and Greenpeace criticizes after reviewing all timetables. For example, Eurostar has significantly reduced the underground trains between Great Britain and France.
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.
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 human-caused. The most dangerous factors are the generation of electricity and heat from coal, gas, and oil, and burning of gasoline and diesel while driving.