Last week, the French government made a bold move. In an attempt to reduce the country’s reliance on air travel, it banned short-haul domestic flights. While not a complete ban – at the moment France’s new law only applies to routes where there are valid high-speed train alternatives – it signalled a huge move towards a greener future.
But will the ban eventually be extended to cover the rest of Europe? Well, quite possibly. While such a policy isn’t currently on the cards for the EU, France’s new rule could certainly be seen as paving the way for further change – and several people have already called for the ban to be replicated across the continent.
Belgian politician Georges Gilkinet, for instance, told The i that shorter flights should be replaced by improved rail connections. Gilkinet said he wants ‘to forbid such little distance flights’ and that ‘on a European level, this makes sense’. He was speaking at the launch of the new Brussels-Berlin European Sleeper night train service, which began services last week.
Likewise, environmental campaigners over at Greenpeace have also expressed their support for a similar ban, saying there should be no short-haul flights within the EU if the train or ferry equivalent takes less than six hours. Greenpeace reckons this kind of ban could save up to 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
In other words, a significant overhaul of rail travel across Europe is likely required before any kind of further restrictions on short-haul flights. But still, with the current rail renaissance in full-swing, maybe that’s all a bit closer than we think.
Did you see that another new sleeper train to Berlin will launch in 2023?
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