France bans short-haul flights where trains are an option

Train station Bordeaux-Saint-Jean. The current station building opened in 1898
Edited by Travel Weekly

    France has officially signed a law banning short domestic flights for journeys that can be taken in less than two and a half hours via train.

    “This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” transport minister, France, Clement Beaune, said in a statement.

    The nation has been mulling over the decision for over a year, part of the French government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions and was the result of a French citizens’ climate convention established by President Emmanuel Macron in response to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement.

    At the end of 2022, it came to light that the European Commission’s (EC) decision to approve the ban came after extended in-fighting though was deemed legal on the condition that it is limited to three years, reviewed after two years and extended to cover connecting flights.

    The policy will only affect three routes currently – those linking Paris-Orly airport to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon.

    “As we fight relentlessly to decarbonise our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” Beaune added.

    For the ban to apply the flight path must have high-speed rail alternatives that make it possible to complete the journey in under two and a half hours. There must also be early and late trains in service so travellers are able to spend at least eight hours at the destination.

    French President, Emmanuel Macron has been criticised for dropping the proposed idea of replacing all flights under four hours.

    Vice president of the Air France pilots union, Guillaume Schmid, said high-speed trains were already growing as an option for shorter travel.

    “No-one will be fooled by this measure: passengers are naturally turning away from taking flights on these routes,” Schmid tweeted.

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