On average, going on summer vacation by plane is half as expensive as taking the more sustainable train, according to research by Greenpeace. The environmental organization is, therefore, not surprised that Schiphol Airport sees an average of 68,000 departing passengers per day during the summer vacation. Flying saves time and money compared to the train. But CO2 emissions are much higher, Trouw reports.
Greenpeace looked at the prices of 112 routes across Europe at different times. The train was cheaper on only 23 routes. And flying is often much cheaper than the train. A trip from Barcelona to London costs ten times more by train than by plane.
According to the European Union’s environment agency, air travel produces almost five times more CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometer than a train trip. That is a “very conservative estimate,” according to Greenpeace. The environmental organization pointed to the forest fires and heat waves across Europe – consequences of climate change – when calling it crazy that polluting air travel is promoted with low prices.
Canceling the flight connection between Amsterdam and London, which 4.7 million people flew in 2019, would cot 216,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, according to Greenpeace. That flight can easily be replaced by the train, which takes about 4 hours to travel between the two cities. Taking time at the airport into account, that isn’t much more than flying. But train ticket prices are almost twice as expensive as taking the plane on this route.
Last week, the environmental organization Transport & Environment calculated that the aviation sector benefits over 34 billion euros per year due to government rules. Airlines don’t pay tax on kerosene, for example. And there is no VAT on airline tickets, while train travelers in the Netherlands, for example, pay 9 percent VAT on their train tickets.
Greenpeace urged governments to make air travel more expensive, and train travel cheaper. Public transport companies should also make international train travel simpler, Greenpeace said. People who book an international train trip often have to buy tickets from multiple companies and can’t book months in advance. The organization advocates for one ticket for all public transport that is valid throughout Europe.