“Trains before Planes” Is One of the Slogans of Climate Activists

Throughout 2022, Rubi Bahntechnik has been posting tips to help people move smoothly throughout cities with the hashtag #TrafficTuesday. This article is one of the highlights from the series:

“Trains before planes” is one of the slogans of climate activists…

Unfortunately, the current reality is the exact opposite in many ways. Air travel took off after the second world war as both tourism and jet engines were developed rapidly. This led to a high market share that high-speed rail is only starting to claw back, as this video outlines.

RUBI Bahntechnik - Rail Network Development

Here are some of the problems we need to solve:

International train journeys need to be as simple as flights. This means direct trains, tickets that can be easily booked for the entirety of a journey, and competitive ticket prices.

We need to look beyond the obvious. Both budget airlines and budget train operators found success in focussing on leisure rather than business travel. This makes budget operators sustainable next to established competition because it unearths hidden demand. Yes, a plurality of customers switching to budget railways will come from established competitors (50 percent in the case of the French Ouigo), but there is potential for induced demand and demand captured from other modes of transport (25 percent each in Ouigo’s case).

Networks need to be developed with an international perspective. International lines require high-speed infrastructure that doesn’t just end on each side of the border and cross-border interoperability. Only the latter would allow for whole countries to benefit from infrastructure like the Eurotunnel by prolonging Eurostar lines to places like Manchester or Edinburgh. In the words of the video, “operators can only induce demands where governments have decided to build tracks.”

Let’s get this done!

This article was originally published by RUBI Bahntechnik.

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