Greenpeace said British travelers would only choose to take a train holiday if the government took important steps to “wean millions of passengers off highly polluting flights”.
Talking to independenceThe campaign group says that “heat waves across Europe are just the latest reminder of an escalating climate crisis”.
But as reported last week, new analysis shows that choosing to swap planes for rail travel to vacation in Europe will cost an average of four times, with the UK being one of the worst countries when it comes to offering affordable train fares.
Of the more than 100 routes studied, the Barcelona-London train was the most expensive, 10 times more expensive than flying – and sometimes 30 times more. The report found that airfares ranged from €12.99 to €80.60, while the researchers could not find train tickets for less than €300.
In 2019, 3.36 million people flew between Barcelona and London, making it the third most used short-haul route in Europe with rail alternatives.
The average cost of getting to the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, from the UK by train is almost seven times more expensive than by plane; it is a similar story to get to London from Marseille, or to Cologne from Manchester.
The smallest difference on the routes analyzed is the domestic journey from Edinburgh to London, although the cost of a rail journey is still almost twice as high as that of a plane.
Glasgow-London is the only domestic route where trains are cheaper on two of the six days analyzed; on average, the train is twice as expensive as the more polluting flight.
The Greenpeace report describes the UK as “a hotspot for low-cost airlines that are wreaking havoc on the climate”. Even bosses at Network Rail – the public body that owns most of the UK’s rail network – splashed out £10,000 a week on airfares last year because it was cheaper than taking the train.
Paul Morozzo, transport campaigner for Greenpeace UK, says independence that, while he understands that people need to take a vacation, tourists are “virtually forced” to fly due to “tax breaks on expensive airlines and trains.”
Air passenger numbers have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, and greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector will soar in the coming years, he said. This is the inevitable result of government policies that refuse to tax airlines or the energy they use, and have even cut the Air Passenger Tax on domestic flights.
“Airlines are being left free to pollute and price-conscious consumers in the cost of living crisis are left with little choice. Meanwhile, the government is losing an estimated £4.7 billion in taxes each year.
Mr Morozzo suggested banning short-haul flights to places with good rail links – something France has recently tried to introduce – and introducing what he called a “fairer tax system” that would “stop sanctioning rail travel”.
A ban on flying private jets has also been introduced, as well as a frequent flyer tax which Greenpeace UK believes will discourage frequent flyers.
“People need to get off the plane and get out of the car to get on the train. The UK government should come up with a policy to ensure train fares are kept lower than the more polluting travel options. Heatwaves across Europe are just the latest reminder of the escalating climate crisis. It is time for the government to quickly adjust its transport policy with the important goal of reducing carbon emissions.”
Airlines UK, the trade body for UK-registered airlines, says its members will pay almost £4 billion into the Treasury this year through the Air Passenger Tax and that the removal of free subsidies through the Emissions Trade Scheme from 2026 will add up to £4 billion over the next decade, in addition to the hundreds of millions of pounds it already pays annually.
A spokesperson for Airlines UK said: “Airlines are investing billions of dollars in decarbonization projects and are fully committed to net zero emissions by 2050, through sustainable aviation fuels, hydrogen and other zero-emission technologies, fully modernized UK airspace and zero carbon.” independence.
“Setting people’s airfares and preventing them from seeing family, friends or taking a well-deserved vacation is not the answer to our carbon challenge.”