A recent analysis found that on certain routes across Asia and Europe, high-speed trains are faster, cheaper and more convenient than flying to the destination. From Beijing to Shanghai and London to Paris, where in the world do passengers prefer to take the train?
Worldwide, the air industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, with increasingly competitive offerings in terms of destinations, cost and flexibility. Huge profits also permit airlines to further invest in passenger-friendly services, infrastructure and technology.
But while air transport dominates the long-haul travelling market, on shorter distances, more and more passengers seem to be inclined to opt for the train instead.
Bloomberg analysis has recently shown that, on key routes in Asia and Europe, high-speed railways (HSR) and air travel are neck and neck. The reasons are quite easy to grasp. Firstly, when taking into consideration what flying entails – travelling from home to the airport, time spent in check-in and security, as well as additional transport and baggage pickup– taking the train offers big overall travel time savings.
Then, there is the cost: although high-speed rail travel is seldom cheap, particularly on modern, latest generation services, booking a ticket in advance and using a railcard can turn out to be more budget-friendly than many airlines.
What’s more, for those passengers who are conscious of their environmental footprint, research has repeatedly shown that train travel is the least polluting way to cover long distances: a train generates up to ten times less CO2 than an airplane, according to Rail Europe. The International Transport Forum reports that the average CO2 emissions of high-speed trains in Europe per passenger/km stand at less than 17g, compared with 153g for planes.