A major European country has banned all domestic short haul air travel where an alternative public transport option exists instead.
A new law has come into force in France which stops all flights between cities where the same trip can be taken by train in under two and half hours.
Some politicians had called for a tougher limit, banning all flights where a train journey of four hours or under could be made.
The new restriction aims to cut carbon emission which are far higher from aeroplanes than trains.
It means almost all flights between Paris and major cities including Lyon, Nantes and Bordeaux will be stopped.
But the 2.5 hour limit means flights will still operate between Paris and the major Mediterranean city of Marseilles and resort of Nice.
The only exception will be connecting flights. So someone travelling from, for instance, Singapore to Lyon but changing planes in Air France’s major hub of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport will still be able to do so.
French consumer organisation Que Choisir has stated that on average aeroplanes emit 77 times more carbon dioxide per passenger than the train.
On some routes travel time might increase by around 40 minutes but boarding trains is often far swifter than going through security and boarding procedures at airports.
The new law states that for flights to stop, passengers should be able to make outbound and return train journeys on the same day, having spent eight hours at their destination. But otherwise train services do not need to be frequent.
France has one of the most highly developed high speed rail networks in the world with iconic TGV trains shuttling between Paris and other major cities.
The train had already become the preferred option for many French travellers even to some international destinations such as Brussels. More than two thirds of people travelling between the French and Belgian capitals choose the train.
Laurent Donceel, interim head of industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E), told AFP that governments should support “real and significant solutions” to airline emissions, rather than “symbolic bans”.
The European Union had found that “banning these trips will only have minimal effects” on CO2 output, he added.
A4E highlighted its own net zero by 2050 strategy, which includes switching to jet fuel from non-fossil sources and deploying battery- or hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Similar ban in Australia
A similar ban in Australia would have little effect as there are no air routes where the equivalent train trip would take less than two and a half hours.
That’s chiefly down to Australia’s relative lack of higher speed rail, let alone a TGV style high speed network.
The distance between Canberra and Sydney is just 300km and would theoretically be a prime candidate for axing most flights.
But the train takes an achingly slow four hours; which is more sluggish that the coach which makes the journey half an hour more swiftly.
Almost 30 flights operate every day between the capital and Sydney.
Paris to Lyon is 150km further than Sydney to Canberra yet the fastest train can make the CBD to CBD journey in under two hours.
– with AFP.