In a dramatic plan to cut airline emissions and help the environment, France is set to ban short domestic flights in favor of train travel if the trip can be taken in two-and-a-half hours or less.
The government voted on Saturday to already suspend some flights by domestic airlines, according to CNN. The French government’s upper house, the Senate, must still pass the bill, much like in the American government.
President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized over the proposal, especially for originally pitching a plan that called for taking a train if the trip was less than four hours, not two-and-a-half.
But Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said the government’s proposal was “reasonable.” He told lawmakers during the Saturday debate that a four-hour threshold “would have really impacted territories that need flights. When there is a robust alternative, usually clients switch to trains,” he said, citing routes from Strasbourg and Bordeaux to Paris. “Each time high-speed lines have competed with flights, we have noticed that trains have largely drained (airline passengers).”
France’s most trafficked airport, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, would barely be affected. The plan spares two routes that would typically form a connecting international flight, such as from Strasbourg to Paris to Rome.
This idea is not new and likely has caught the attention of Amtrak in the U.S. concerning the possibility of adding more routes to its service if such a plan ever were to be put in place in America.
A number of European countries have sought to promote train travel as an alternative to domestic flights, and last year Austrian Airlines was told by the government to replace one of its flights with a more frequent train service in order to meet the environmental criteria of its government bailout due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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