"In the 1920s and ’30s, long-distance train rides were the norm across Europe,
according to Mark Smith, also known as the Man in Seat 61
. The luxurious
Orient Express, gliding its way along a picturesque route from London to
Istanbul, is just one example of how journeys by rail were “both pleasurable
and practical,” he says.
But with the emergence of low-cost, short-haul flights, that all began to
change. Since 1950, global air traffic has increased 300-fold and, until the
pandemic, aviation was one of the world’s fastest growing sources of CO2
“At some point, it became completely normal to fly to a different country just
for the weekend,” says Smith, whose legendary website has grown since 2001 to
become the leading resource for train travel across the world. “But that’s
beginning to change and people are realizing that it’s not so normal.”
As the reality of climate change becomes ever more stark and the simple comfort
and ease of rail travel becomes more attractive, there is growing evidence that
citizens, companies and governments in Europe are getting on board with trains
as a better way to travel.
In April, the French government voted to ban short-haul domestic flights where
alternatives by train exist. Research by French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir
had found that planes emit 77 times more CO2 per passenger than trains on
journeys lasting under four hours.
Experts say the combination of climate change and the pandemic has also caused
a significant shift in consumer demand. A study by Cardiff University found
that 47 percent of U.K. travelers, now more appreciative of nature and attuned
to a slower pace of life, plan to fly less after the pandemic."
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*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics