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‘Planes To Trains’ (2000)

20th September, 2000

In 2000, Friends of the Earth published a study, which they has commissioned from AEF, on the potential for transfer from air travel to rail.

The study examined a number of airline routes between pairs of major towns where, due to distances involved, rail was a realistic alternative. The routes were between pairs of towns in mainland UK and between the UK and NW Europe. It was assumed that there could or would be upgrades to certain rail services in order to realise their potential.

The study took a number of scenarios, which ranged from ‘best case’ where all the air traffic moved to rail to a modest one where only 50% of traffic transferred on a few routes.

The conclusion was that in the best case air traffic equivalent to one heavily used runway (40 million passengers pa) in the SE could be transferred by 2015. While the transfer is modest compared with the total amount of forecast air travel, it is significant for the SE when it is considered that the White Paper is proposing just 2 or 3 new runways by 2030.

There would be significant accompanying reductions of emissions of greenhouse and noxious gases; up to 750,000 tonnes of carbon emissions could be prevented.

See report (Friends of the Earth web site; pdf document, 32 pages).