On average, a train in Europe costs twice as much as an airplane, and on one route it is thirty (!) times as expensive. Belgium is in the top three among the most expensive countries. This is evidenced by a new analysis by Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe. European railways are being punished by unfairly taxing airlines at the expense of the climate.
Greenpeace compared plane and train tickets for 112 different European routes at nine different times. “This report shows just how much European citizens are encouraged to fly,” said Herwig Schuster, a mobility expert at Greenpeace. “Airlines benefit from unfair tax advantages. Low-cost airlines in particular are exploiting all loopholes to offer flights at rock-bottom prices.”
According to the Environment Organization, €10 flights only exist because others pay the real costs: uncertainty for employees, customers paying too many extras, and local governments handing out subsidies with tax money. “For the good of the planet and the good of all, politicians must take action to reverse this trend,” Schuster asserts.
For routes from Belgium, train tickets cost an average of 2.6 times more than plane tickets. According to Greenpeace, this makes our country the third most expensive country to travel by train, after the United Kingdom and Spain.
A train ticket on the Madrid-Brussels route costs fifteen times more than a plane ticket. This is the fourth largest price difference from the environmental organization’s study. The route with the biggest difference in fares is between London and Barcelona: the train there can be thirty times more expensive than the plane. And only 23 of the 112 European routes studied are (almost) always cheaper by train than traveling by plane.
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Low-cost carriers operate 79 percent of the analyzed routes and in most cases are cheaper than the train through “unfair and aggressive pricing strategies”. Sometimes, they offer cheaper transfers than airlines that operate direct flights for the same routes, and thus emit up to ten times more greenhouse gases. “This gives travelers the ridiculous option of flying from London to Brussels, with a stopover in Denmark” on the cheap, says Schuster.
To make rail more affordable than air travel, Greenpeace is calling on national governments to introduce climate tickets. “These are affordable, simple tickets that are valid for all public transportation in a country or region, including all trains and cross-border transportation,” Schuster said.
According to Greenpeace, climate tickets can be financed, among other things, through taxes on excess profits of oil and gas companies, the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies or through a fair tax system based on carbon dioxide emissions. “At the same time, subsidies to airlines and airports must be ended, starting with the phasing out of kerosene tax credits,” Schuster asserts.
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