European Flights Are Cheap, Rail Travel Is High & The Climate Is Suffering
Photo Credit: Photo credit: Raw Photografic Chuy

Photo Credit: Photo credit: Raw Photografic Chuy

European Flights Are Cheap, Rail Travel Is High & The Climate Is Suffering

Jasmine Osby
Jasmine Osby Jul 26, 2023

Historically, rail travel has been cheaper than plane tickets. Now, climate change advocates are urging European governments to reconsider encouraging more travelers to book flights. 

According to a new study conducted by Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe, EU policies have created an unfair advantage for airlines. This advantage has led to increased rail travel prices and CO2 emissions across the continent. 

Greenpeace representatives worry that if propaganda encouraging plane travel continues, it could potentially lead to climate devastation. For insight into what’s coming if air pollution continues, the organization pinpoints the current heat waves ravaging multiple European countries. 

“For the planet and people’s sake, politicians must act to turn this situation around and make taking the train the more affordable option, or else we’re only going to see more and more heatwaves like the one currently wreaking total havoc in Spain, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere,” said Greenpeace EU’s senior climate campaigner Lorelei Limousin. 

While plane travel may be cheaper, climate control experts are begging the European government to encourage change before it’s too late.

Usually, Trains Are Cheaper 

rail travel
Photo credit: Josh Sorenson

It’s no secret that trains used to be the cheapest method of transportation in Europe. However, Greenpeace’s study suggests an increase in rail travel prices is a direct result of EU governments favoring airlines over trains. As a result, the price of train tickets has skyrocketed. The study compared over 100 flight and train prices. It revealed that “tickets for trains are on average twice as expensive as for flights.” 

Another factor tipping the scales in favor of plane travel is that airlines in Europe do not pay taxes on kerosene. According to Transport & Environment, Europeans miss out on 34 million euros each year due to the airline tax break. 

“Airlines benefit from outrageous fiscal advantages,” Limousin said. “Planes pollute far more than trains, so why are people being encouraged to fly?”

Railways receive no tax exemptions from European governments at this time, according to Greenpeace.

Another Blow For Climate Control

rail travel
Photo credit: Oleksandr Canary Islands

Unfortunately, more planes in the sky mean more toxins are released into the air. According to a 2021 Greenpeace report, flying is 80 percent worse than rail travel. 

“Flying only looks like a bargain because the cost of pollution is so cheap,” said Dr. Doug Parr, director of policy at Greenpeace UK. “Low-cost airlines are paying negligible tax while imposing low wages and poor conditions for staff.”

According to the European Commission, aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse emissions across the continent. 

Greenpeace climate campaigners are urging European governments to encourage citizens to travel by train again. Their proposal includes lowering the cost of rail tickets and offering cross-border tickets. 

Some countries have already begun taking steps to lower greenhouse gas from planes. In France, flights to destinations less than two hours away are no longer offered. Additionally, Luxembourg became the first country in Europe to provide free public transportation for all citizens.

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