Lyon, France (Urban Transport News): The European Union plans to reduce such air travel and replace planes with high-speed trains. To discuss the potential expansion of their rail systems, rail leaders met in Lyon, France on June 29, 2022. They unveiled their current vision of doubling the use of rail by 2030 and triple it by 2050. The ultimate goal is to connect all major cities with high-speed trains.
Europe already has several high-speed trains in place, building infrastructure across the continent will be easier said than done. In addition to being a very ambitious and expensive project, bureaucracy will be a major obstacle. Since the high-speed rail lines will cross country lines, different regulations will need to be overcome to make the project a reality. There is also the consideration that COVID has had a major impact on train ticket sales, with passenger numbers reaching historic lows.
However, the integration of high-speed trains across Europe certainly seems like a worthy undertaking. The benefits are twofold: not only will people have easier and more affordable access to the rest of Europe, but it will be incredibly beneficial from an ecological perspective. The carbon emissions of planes are significantly higher than those of trains. A joint report by environmental organizations from Germany, Poland, Spain and France indicates that a Paris-Berlin flight creates at least six times more carbon emissions than a train journey of the same distance. If the rail network is tripled by 2050, it would be a huge drag on the EU’s Green Deal goals, which set the lofty goal of making the EU carbon neutral by 2050.
EU high-speed rail projects are off to a promising start, with national railways like Paris-Lyon, Milan-Rome, Barcelona-Madrid and Berlin-Munich offering passengers fast and green ways to get from the big city of a country. to another. There are also promising examples of inter-country rails, with the Channel Tunnel and the Thalys track. The Brenner Base Tunnel, scheduled to open in 2032, will connect Innsbruck, Austria, and Fortezza. This will be a great example of rail bringing nothing but benefits, as not only will rail be more environmentally friendly than flying, but it is expected to cut travel times by up to 70 minutes compared to flying . Various European countries are also working on building more rails to connect their major cities.
If the EU can provide high-speed trains that are more cost effective, more durable and faster than air travel, it will be a big win for train travel in general. However, money, paperwork, and other logistical headaches could significantly slow down this process. Hopefully the EU can bring its full vision to life and travel is improved in all of the above areas. If all of these factors come together, we could envision the future of inter-country travel.