Recently one of our most popular way of moving around and traveling the world is challenged due to the impact it has on our planet. The plane as way of transportation gets more and more critique. Nevertheless, it is a sector that has ongoing research to get greener and better. But as I see it, to be honest, a plane will never be clean and neutral in CO2. So, in case of a travel… the train is polluting less… but yeah … it takes more time, but why not?
Saying goodbye to luxury?
When debating the topic, arguments to use the plane are about how easy and affordable it is to take the plane, and how it is usually quicker on some travel routes. And, since the low-cost companies arrived, the train became less interesting and due to that, it lost some travellers at the same time. The prices for a plane ticket are usually half of what you pay for a train ride… but is this a sustainable situation? I can’t really go deep into the subject as my knowledge about it is limited. But I guess when opening the ‘free market’ in the railway will have a good impact on our wallet and hopefully also the planet.
Some low-cost alternatives already exist in the railway industry. For example there is Ouigo in France or IZY between Paris and Brussels. In Italy, you’ll find Italo who broke down the prices in Italy on the famous route North to South and return. Ouigo and IZY have the same business model as a low cost plane company, but instead of the air it’s on tracks. The overall offer is quite limited at this time, but maybe when the demand grows, the offer will follow.
winning or losing time?
It’s a tricky question as it is impossible to know about your specific trip if you win or lose time by taking the train instead of the plane. But it is important to take multiple time consuming elements into account when you compare both ways of travel, including also the element of luggage, time and money. Overall, when you look at a trip, the train wins most of the time on the time and price quality. With the train you receive a travel from city center to city center, no time and cue to check-in and the (multiple) security-checks. Also, the train is usually more punctual than the plane, etc.
But, even when after counting all the hours and all the extra (public transport or taxi) tickets, I find it also more relaxing to travel by train than by plane. There is no need to stress for the security, there is more space on board, less noise and less painful to your ears (a lot of people are suffering from ears problems due to the change of pressure). And also there is no need to check if it was 2 or 3 hours before take off that you need to be at the airport.
But the real question is: Why not visiting places closer to us?
When you think about a life without plane the first question coming in your head might be: « How will I fill that need of travel, moving, going away? » It’s not the beach of white sand or the clear water the caribean that you’ll get traveling by train even if it’s maybe possible with a lot of time and some organization… Ok, maybe a lot…
Nowadays, the high speed train takes you almost everywhere in Europe and it does it quickly. You can discover nice landscape and taking time for a coffee at the bar to stretch the legs. But the question is: « Did you (already) take the time to visit your own country? » Sometimes we don’t even know our city correctly, neither our country.
Not abusing, moving in a sustainable way
At the end, we maybe need to review our way of moving and travelling in a more sustainable way. Why not limiting the plane at once a year or once every two year?