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Short-haul Flights in the UK could be curtailed

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Short-haul Flights in the UK could be curtailed

Old 28th Aug 2007, 23:53
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Short-haul Flights in the UK could be curtailed

August 29, 2007

Tories consider plans to force short-haul air passengers on to high-speed trains
Greg Hurst, Political Correspondent
Plans that would curb drastically the number of flights taken by British travellers are being considered by the Conservatives with new taxes on air travel and a halt to airport expansion.

Short-haul flights would receive particular attention: VAT would be levied on fuel for domestic flights for the first time and airlines would be forced to give over airport slots to long-haul trips. All flights would be subject to a separate per-flight tax based on the amount of CO2 generated, replacing the air passenger duty and shifting the burden from passengers to airlines, although this might force up ticket prices anyway. The proposals also include plans for a moratorium on airport expansion pending attempts to free capacity at existing airports by restricting short-haul flights and forcing travellers to switch to trains.

The plans have been drawn up by a policy review group looking at quality of life issues, whose report is due to be published next month before the Tory conference in Blackpool. The recommendations have been put forward by one of its working groups focusing on transport policy and it was unclear last night whether they had been accepted in full by the commission’s co-chair-men John Gummer, the former Environment Secretary, and Zac Goldsmith, the wealthy environmentalist.

The group has rejected a widely ridiculed proposal by David Cameron to restrict people to one return short-haul flight per year at a standard rate of tax and charge more for subsequent aircraft trips. This idea of a “green air miles allowance”, put forward in a consultation document, Greener Skies, published by Mr Cameron in March, was attacked by airlines and tourist bodies and caused unease among some Conservatives. It has been quietly dropped as impractical.

The group is determined to press ahead with moves to force travellers to abandon short-haul flights in favour of rail for domestic and nearby European destinations or face steep rises in taxes or fares. Its report is based on a calculation that about a fifth of flights from Heathrow are to destinations easily reached by rail, according to the Evening Standard. The most popular short-haul destinations are Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels and, within Britain, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle.

The Government’s plans to allow a third runway at Heathrow would be unnecessary if such journeys were transferred to rail and airlines were forced to reallocate their take-off and landing slots for long-haul travel, the report concludes. Plans for a second runway at Stansted could also be shelved, it argues.

It represents a gamble that voters will put bold environmental policies before personal convenience, although heightened security measures and resulting queues at airports have already begun to alter the equation. The opening of the Channel Tunnel rail link from St Pancras will also cut journey times to Paris and Brussels by 20 minutes.

George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, has made clear that he intends to use green taxes to raise revenue for other policy pledges and tax reductions in the party’s manifesto, such as a commitment to support marriage. A Conservative spokesman said: “We will not be commenting on the report until it is published but, as with all of the policy groups, everything contained in the report will be proposals to the Shadow Cabinet and will not necessarily become party policy.”

The Liberal Democrats intensified the battle for the green vote by publishing their own environment policy, including a series of taxes on aviation to fund the party’s plans for income tax cuts for the low paid.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 04:14
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One of the Tories pushing this idea is Tim Yeo who is Chairman of the Commons Environment Committee.

Interestingly Yeo has just been appointed as a non-executive Director of Groupe EuroTunnel, the new French company running the underground railway. He is there as the token Brit to represent the beleagured and disenfranchised UK shareholders, who had their generous perks arbitrarily removed and their share values severely diluted in the recent restructuring.

Unfortunately Yeo has also been picked to promote I presume the 'Green' credentials of EuroTunnel. EuroStar are already using misleading advertising in the UK's national press to suggest that a journey to Paris on one of their trains would be 'carbon neutral'.

However few people know that the Channel Tunnel has two massive refrigeration plants to keep it cool. Trains passing through it act like a pistons and would heat the air to over 54c if not cooled by the huge network of pipes along its 22 mile length.

These refrigeration plants consume the same amount of energy as 260,000 domestic refrigerators. Most of that power is generated by dirty fossil fuel fired power stations in the UK and nuclear power in France. France generates over 82% of its electricity from nuclear power; it tells you on your bill what the breakdown in generation of electricity is in France.

Most power stations have to run 24/7 regardless of demand. The bottom line is that a train to Paris is NOT a very 'green' way to travel.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 05:07
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This is indeed true:

Timothy Stephen Kenneth Yeo:
01960271 EUROTUNNEL P L C Director 05/06/2007
06037631 EUROTUNNEL GROUP UK PLC Director 20/06/2007

Conflicts of interest at their best...
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 06:45
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This is more of the usual p!sh from politicians. Why do they think that people take planes instead of trains? I wonder if it's because...

- The train is more expensive.
- The train takes a lot longer (especially in Scotland)
- The train is usually late and dirty.

Also, an airline will put on a bigger plane to cope with lots of passengers, where the train company takes off carriages when it's busy!

Last edited by The_Steed; 29th Aug 2007 at 06:46. Reason: Spelling!
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 06:46
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So, can you park at a rail station for a week or so and still find your car there when you get back?

Or even get a guaranteed seat on a train?

If the UK's train system was convenient, quick and good value for money, of course more people would use it rather than suffer the queues and security restrictions at airports. But, apart from a few maionline express services, the UK's trains are slow and overcrowded - and very expensive!

Eurotunnel should look at their pricing structure. The original idea was that you could just turn up, buy a ticket and go. But that's a very expensive option - if I went to the Channel Tunnel right now to take the next available car train, it'd be £199 for the 'Flexiplus' ticket. Rather a long way from the 'Standard' ticket which allegedly costs 'from £49'. The earliest date I could find for a £49 ticket is 2200 on 24 September - and you won't find anything for less than £61 until 14 September - again, at 2200.....

Can't help thinking that, until they have a simple 'pay and go' one price ticket, Eurotunnel won't succeed.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 06:57
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Politicians in general are jumping on the environment bandwagon because they think that it'll be vote winners. A big mistake IMO because at the end of the day people are more likely to vote with their pockets. People are already fed up with the 'hidden' charges added when booking a flight, so they are hardly goinging to be enamoured into voting for someone who proposes to charge more.

Besides, I would prefer to get the airport two hours before my flight and hang around waiting, rather than take the train.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 07:01
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I saw a very good comparison of plane vs train in Cimber Air's inflight mag showing the plane (typically ATR) to be as economic as a small car.

It was a very good article and showewd clearly how inefficient the Danish train system is.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:01
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I have just had a quick look at rail fares for London to Glasgow, out at 1000 Mon 3rd sept, return 1600 7th Sept.
Saver Return £98
Standard Rtn £240
First open Rtn £347
I think that with the saver on the return journey if you missed your train a higher fare would be payable.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:11
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Can't help thinking that, until they have a simple 'pay and go' one price ticket, Eurotunnel won't succeed

Yes Beagle. I live in northern France, so know all about EuroTunnel's stupid ticket prices. The problem is that they think they are running an airline!! ET are always targeting the airlines with their advertising, yet their management hardly run the company in the same professional manner. Look at the recent debacle when a train got stuck underground and the ex Tory Transport Minister Steven Norris was in one of the carriages. Incompetence and very poor safety practices and it will get worse now that it is a French company!

Anyone who has used EuroTunnel recently returning from France, probably faced long queues at the UK immigration booths. Many passengers miss their trains because the queues frequently stretch back beyond the French 'security'(sic). There are eight lanes available, but a UK Immigration Officer at Dunkerque last week told me that ET will only pay for two to be staffed. This is the minimum number. Even the immigration officers get caught up in the mess as they travel on the Tunnel back and forth each day!

The other thing which is an absolute disgrace, is how the British government stood by and allowed the French to gain control of EuroTunnel. It started in July 2004 when at a Shareholders meeting in France, the Anglo/ French board were voted off after a few French hot heads like convicted fraudster and amateur share tipster Nicholas Miguet, promised the shareholders the earth. None of these promises were fulfilled, the shareholders were just used as pawns.

Also the French government started a US style Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sauveguard plan via the Paris Commercial Court, just so that ET would not fall into the hands of the senior creditors like Oaktree Capital Management. With Chapter 11 in the 'States,a company has to have a hope of being able to trade its way out of debt. That was never the case with EuroTunnel, it was pure French protectionism.

It was the right of the senior tier creditors to takeover EuroTunnel, if the company could no longer service its interest payments. The senior creditors were mainly British and American financial institutions!!

EuroTunnel has been trading whilst insolvent since it started running trains.It is still bankrupt.All the other companies competiting with it on the Dover Straits, have to play against a different set of rules.

EuroTunnel is Europe's ENRON.

Where ENRON created companies to hide its U$30bn worth of losses, ET has hidden its debt in restructuring; creating different tiers of debt, mezzanine debt, loan notes and other financial instruments. It is all creative accounting. The debt is still there.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:12
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The green bandwagon just gets more and more ridiculous. How exactly are people in the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland supposed to get a train to London? What a great way to ruin the economies of those communities like Inverness which are not close to a major hub and concentrate yet more of the economy in the South East where the major air hubs and easy rail links to Europe are.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:18
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A cheaper way to travel on the Chunnel is to buy on line, using a convenient French address, 2 Return Tickets from France to the UK. You then bin the unused parts. Eurotunnel don't like it but can't do much about it.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:21
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Manxman:- I thought IOM and Channel Isles were independant and would not be subject to any UK governmemnt fee?
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:44
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I agree with Saintsman - politicians are playing with fire. There is a rapidly growing sense of opinion that the whole "Green" issue is simply a ploy by Governments around the world to get more money from us. And why target an industry that produces a minimul CO2 output? They should be taxing all products made of wood from the rain forests. Deforestation is the single biggest cause of increasing CO2.

David Cameron is a dead duck. His performance since becoming leader has been pathetic - totally losing the plot.

I have been a lifelong Tory voter - but I will not vote Tory if these proposals are part of their manifesto.

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Old 29th Aug 2007, 08:52
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Like this
I read in the newspaper at the weekend that a businessman has had the idea to build a railway bridge across from Northern Ireland to SW Scotland, eventually to have a fast speed train from Dublin to Paris and beyond.

Great idea ……… then somebody asked did he know there was a difference in the railway gauge between the Irish and British / Continental railway networks, which presumably as a railway enthusiast you would know about (slightly over 5’ I think it said it was in Ireland). Presumably horses are more sturdily built in Ireland than Britain?

No he did not know about the different railway gauges … Possibly everybody could change trains at Stranrar? Not sure how high speed that will take. (I would think Dublin to Paris by air takes likely takes between 1 and 2 hours?)

just build another from The IOM to west Cumbria (30 odd miles).
Ooops your railway is 3 ft guage if I recall
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:10
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A4 - couldn't agree more.

However Its not "governments around the world". we are buried in this anti-aviation greenspin, so its hard to realise, but this is ONLY HAPPENING IN THE UK. everywhere else in the world aviation sits on the environmental agenda in the place you would expect an industry providing less than 2% of the worlds emissions to be.
The plans are unworkable, and probably illegal, and are just politicians "lets give them what they want to get elected" fluff. However I think they have missed the mark. Lots of people say they care about the environement in surveys and study groups, but really don't give a toss, and certainly not if it impinges on their daily life.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:15
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If Yeo, Cameron or anyone else could explain how I take a High Speed train from Norwich to Manchester instead of Flybe Q 400, for a similar transit time of 50 minutes and a similar price of £50 - I'm listening.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:18
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A4, I totally agree. How to make oneself unelectable in one easy lesson! This really reinforces the principle that it is now near impossible to vote for what you want. More and more. we are reduced to voting for who is the least damaging; and that assessment is getting harder and harder.

I still haven't forgiven Eurotunnel for confiscating my Leatherman multitool! I suppose I could have put it in the cargo hold; except there isn't the option.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:25
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I have taken many flights between Heathrow and Manchester, I would have taken the train if it was cheaper and more reliable. The last 2 times I have been up to Manchester I have driven as sometimes door to door it is quicker than the plane.

If they limited domestic flights then most people would probably drive instead of taking the train which would defeat what the politicans wanted.

If someone provided a train service that got to Manchester in under 90 mins and to scotland very quickly and also had a branch to Heathrow for those that would otherwise have connected to long haul flights on domestic flights then I could see it working.

But I don;t trust politicians to get themselves in gear to do anything. Seeing as the London Crossrail scheme was first talked about in the mid 90's and it is still not off the ground then there is no hope for anything to be done!
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:37
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PiB: (Chunnel's) senior creditors were mainly British and American financial institutions!!
Oh, are you sure? I had hoped one conspiracy theory was true: the only bond between Maggie T and Mitterand as they buried our happy mutual disdain was that the hyped revenue forecasts of the Chunnel Business Plan served to raise long-term finance from the 50 year mortgages of Japan. This hole in the sea was exported as reparations for the ignominy of Cochin China and Singapore/HKG/Burma.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 09:57
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I agree with you 100%. I despair about the Tories. How can Cameron possibly be electable if he says you can only go on one holiday air trip a year or that he is going to drastically increase the Tax (/duty) on beer? He strikes me as being an upper class twit with no comprehension of the realities of life.
All these UK politicians are trying to get on the Green Bandwagon. Do they not read opinion polls that indicate that a majority in the UK are not convinced of the Green argument about CO2 and Climate Change. (I personally agree with the argument that Climate Change is an on going thing. Within the last 2000 years we have had Northern England suitable for the Romans to grow wine and in Dickens time the Thames routinely froze over. A so called mini Ice Age. And that does dot include the last real Ice Age 10,000 yeras ago and the Earth subsequent warming.)
One Green was questioned recently about the UK's efforts to curb CO2 emmissions compared with the increased emmissions in India and China. All he could say in reply was that we should set a good example!!!!
And as for CO2 offsets. Have you seen the Charities (?!) these go to? I will adamately refuse to pay for such an offset.
Rant over!!!!

Last edited by beerdrinker; 29th Aug 2007 at 10:44.
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