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Trains "should replace planes" - says government "think tank"

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Trains "should replace planes" - says government "think tank"

Old 29th Nov 2002, 10:40
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Post Trains "should replace planes" - says government "think tank"

The price of air travel should rise to limit the environmental impact caused by the increase in flying.

BBC News Online Stoy
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 10:51
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The cost of fuel should rise to include local taxes. Having said that it would need to be enforced globally otherwise the PPL hop to Jersey to fill up is going to become something the major airlines will copy - maybe not to Jersey though

As for "Trains take the strain" the author doesn't use them or they would realise that they cannot carry the current load let alone an increased one.

Airships for cargo!
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 12:32
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.......but how are they going to get them to take off and land?
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 15:15
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Newswatcher - I didn't think of the "take-off and land" joke, but I do wonder how you can get a train from Glasgow to Stornoway, or Cardiff to Cork!
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 15:34
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There's a fair amount of codesharing going on between airlines and rail networks, but it's funny how no-one seems to want to codeshare with the British train system.
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 16:17
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They pay these idiots on Quangos a fortune- they then feel obliged to produce 'new' ideas that invariably end up being idiotic. Trains to Madrid don't work too well. People will have the answer THEY dictate by putting their hands in their pockets and paying for what THEY want, and they don't want these fools producing the equivalent of aviation 'speed bumps'. The thinking is 'inconvenience the traveller to get him to travel as theorists decide he should'- a line of thought Ken Livingstone and Road Traffic Authorities have enthusiastically taken up! Are trains so 'environmentally clean'? Electricity generation, friction, heat, noise (the French TGV is not exactly quiet)- taking up thousands of acres of countryside in the levels envisaged, and eyesore with electricity pylons, eternal noise over large swathes of countryside, killing wild animals in large numbers, falling apart on leaves, snow, flooding, vandalism. And they pay these twerps to come up with these ideas!
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 16:23
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It intrigues me that environmental fascists, greens and their fellow travellers excoriate the motor car and urge us all to use public transport, then in the next breath condemn the airlines. I always thought of an airliner as public transport. Perhaps I'm just confused - see signature
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 16:26
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So our lovely government is about to start adding a tax to aviation fuel. Do the railways not get tax free fuel? And shipping lines?
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 16:30
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About traintravel:

How much is the weight of an avarage train capable of transporting 200 pax? All this weight has to be transported anyway.

How much energy does a train use? including transport losses from the place where the electrical energy is made!

Is this energy enviremental o.K.? (coal, cokes, etc)?

How much room in the landscape does a mile of traintracks take, an avarage airport?

How much noise makes a train goiing past an iron trainbrigde?

What is true and what are the political correct answers?

Just look it up in any report made by governement or enviremental groups, by the way; what happened to the hole in the ozonelayer: no money there anymore?

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Old 29th Nov 2002, 16:33
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Besides the seemingly ignored environmental costs applicable to trains, there is also massive government subsidy for rail travel which I'm sure equals or even exceeds that given to aviation (through alleged hidden absence of tax on fuel).

For example, the train operating companies here in the UK are paid a fortune to operate their train services: and we're not talking branch line routes here. Virgin in particular gets a massive government subsidy to operate such routes as London-Manchester and London-Glasgow where the likes of BA and BD have to sink or swim on their own.

It's not any better on the much vaunted continent. Whilst SNCF technically makes a profit (albeit a small one) the company which owns the tracks (and also builds those massively expensive Lines a Grande Vitesse), RFF, is in massive amounts of debt. Here's the text of a very interesting article from June last year (about the time when everyone was saying you were about to be able to get to Marseilles from London quicker than you could get to Glasgow and wasn't it pathetic etc. etc.)

Viewed from the English side of the Channel, the achievement is breathtaking. Once the new TGV service starts, it will be possible to travel from London’s Waterloo station to Marseilles in about six hours—two hours fewer than it takes to travel by train from London to Inverness in Scotland. There is talk of a direct train from Waterloo to the new Marseilles St Charles station. For Parisians, it means they can escape the cold and wet of the French capital to reach the balmy Côte d’Azur in just three hours—one hour 20 minutes less than the old service.

But there is another side to this tale of gloire: the French may rival Japan in their brilliant inter-city rail network, but, as taxpayers, they pay dearly for the privilege. There is a huge black hole in the railways’ accounts, into which billions of euros are poured each year. And there are parts of the network (notably the Ile de France area around Paris) where consumers are revolting against the horrible state of a train service that is reminiscent of southern England’s, with traffic outgrowing capacity and track and rolling stock wearing out too quickly.

On the surface, it looks as though the railways are making only a small loss of FFr1 billion ($130m), the figure expected this year after punishing strikes over Easter. But that is just the tip of un très grand iceberg. The real horror of French rail finances is buried in another company, called Réseau Ferré de France (RFF). RFF owns the track and signals, and charges SNCF, the sole national operator, for access. But it pays SNCF, in turn, for managing the network.

In the mid-1990s, the European Commission was pressing the French to separate track and rail operations in the interests of greater financial transparency, and also to open the way for some competition on the tracks. Eventually, the French opted for separation in 1997, but for a different reason: SNCF as it was then constituted was going as bust as only a nationalised industry could, halfway through spending FFr300 billion on its TGV network. So the huge debts were shunted into the new state-owned company—where the grim financial picture is still tucked away.

The accounts for 2000 show RFF running at a loss of euro1.7 billion a year. But the true figure is in fact much higher, because there is, in addition, a subsidy from the government of euro1.6 billion. Now that SNCF is itself slipping back into the red, that means that the total losses on French railways are around euro3.5 billion a year.

And the future looks even bleaker. The long-term debt inherited by RFF has risen from euro20.7 billion four years ago to euro22.8 billion, and there is little prospect of reducing it by much. So, over the past three years, under a programme known as “reform of reform”, the company has tapped the international capital markets for loans worth euro18.5 billion, not to spend on shiny new lines but just to refinance its old debts.

As a result, RFF pays interest charges amounting to euro2.4 billion a year. That is almost as great as its biggest trading expense, the euro2.6 billion it pays to SNCF for managing the network . Since the state guarantees the debt, RFF gets an extra subsidy in that it does not have to pay full market interest rates. In addition, RFF in its first four years enjoyed about euro5.4 billion of capital provided by the state. Each year the government puts in new equity to cover the loss: last year the figure was euro1.9 billion.

RFF is supposed to get itself into profit and start paying down its debts, but there is no reasonable prospect of that happening. Mr Gallois has been making noises for some months about redefining SNCF’s financial relations with RFF and the state. This year the 250km extension of the line to Marseilles will put up his access charges to euro1.7 billion. SNCF complains that the track charges will swallow all its passenger revenues on the Marseilles run.

Mr Gallois thinks that the government should just bite the bullet and take over the debts on RFF’s books, in effect writing off the infrastructure investment of building the high-speed network. In that way SNCF might win lower access charges. In practice, however, the government has asked RFF to reduce its borrowings by about half over the next ten years, and the European Commission is increasingly critical of France’s support for its railways, expecting a more commercial framework and the opening of at least some lines to competition. The first customers for Marseilles will be paying about euro62 for an off-peak single ticket, or euro75 at rush-hour. That may yet turn out to be a short-lived bargain at the taxpayer’s expense.

So, if that prat from Friends of the Earth on Channel 4 news last night is complaining about an alleged 'hidden aviation subsidy', tell him to take a look at RFF's balance sheets.

Oh PS........the new Channel Tunnel Rail link takes up about as much space as Heathrow.

But it only goes from London to the Kent coast........whereas from Heathrow you can end up anywhere (as my baggage frequently reminds me!......)
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 17:52
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Unfortunately, more fossil fuel needs to be burnt in order to transport people by air than by rail. The exact difference will of course vary depending on factors such as the distance travelled and the type of aircraft. However, you can’t get away from the fact that air travel generally produces more carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre than rail travel – approximately 300% as much.

Yes, air travel is faster and often more convenient than rail travel. Yes, it's often more pleasant and people may prefer it. Yes, it doesn't disfigure the landscape in the same way that a rail network does. But the bottom line is that it does produce more carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre.
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 21:09
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What a silly idea to put more people on the trains. Not only are they invariably packed but there is no way that our system could ever rival those in place in France and Germany.

Especially when they decide after years of planning that the West Coast main line won't actually be high speed but only 120mph max. Great. Makes Virgin's investments pretty useless really doesn't it?
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 21:26
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Soon the same folks will want to ban taxi cabs because all that start-stop driving is provably a source of pollution.

As I understand it, aviation efficiently uses some components of crude oil that would otherwise be useful only in much lower-value applications. Reduction or elmination of aviation demand for kerosene-type fuels would necessitate higher charges for automotive petrol.

So commercial aviation actually subsidizes the cost of motor fuel for cars.
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 22:24
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Trains "should replace planes" ???

Well, the London to Paris/Brussels Channel Tunnel train service is no shining example. After enormous investment on both sides of the channel (and under it) a good half of the passenger trains built for it are redundant. Some have been hired to operate out of London Kings Cross to Leeds, while several of the original London to Paris ones have now been transferred away to domestic runs in France. The trains built for the overnight runs from Britain to the continent have been sold to Canada, never having operated. The utilisation of the remaining fleet is way down on original plans, and passenger numbers are about half the expectations. The London to Brussels demand in particular is apparently dropping by the year, as are the number of scheduled runs.

Meanwhile Ryanair have sprung up to Brussels and Easyjet to Paris. The traditional carriers, having taken a big initial hit, are now holding their own or better. So if this one prestige project has been a flop financially, what hope for a whole network?
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 22:28
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Here in the US where the pax train systems is a faint shadow of that in Europe, it would be totally impractical. Even high speed trains are slow by comparison, the track maintenance requirement would be astronomical, too many safety concerns at road intersections, and distances too great.

I'd like to see a better train system in the US, but nobody (including pax) will pay to ride on a slow, inefficient system.
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Old 29th Nov 2002, 22:58
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None of this matters.

The reason why there is no tax on jet fuel for international flights is that no countries could come to a tax agreement during the discussions shortly after WWII. I seriously doubt this has changed at all in the last 50 years.

If, for example, the UK unilaterally decided to be "environmentally conscious" and tax the hell out of jet fuel, we would just tanker all the time from abroad. OK it costs more to carry more but it would certainly cost less than paying the tax. The only way to prevent this would be to create a level playing field and there is no way that will ever happen between all the countries of the world. Maybe it would happen between the EU countries which would cause problems but the rest? No way.

Regarding a previous post maybe if jets weren't using all that useless by-product kerosene the government could implement a prohibitive energy tax which would force everyone to switch off their energy-wasting lights and use kerosene lamps which would go some way to preventing kerosene waste! Get real, Friends of the Earth.


Last edited by Lazlo; 29th Nov 2002 at 23:09.
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Old 30th Nov 2002, 01:26
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Planes,Trains and Automobiles

It is good to see companies like Virgin at least trying to update the UK's aged Rail system.

Increasing the taxes on Air Travel at the moment will only make people in the UK who make regular long trips resort back to traveling by car.

As long as other rail companies start to follow Virgins example and the UK government get tough on lax operators Rail travel may become a more attractive alternative in years to come.
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Old 30th Nov 2002, 08:44
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Well....I use the Stansted Express into London every day, so can report as follows:

1) They are pathologically incapable of running to time for more than about 24 hours at a stretch until it all goes pear shaped

2) It costs more (£23 return) to get to/from the airport than it does to fly just about anywhere on the LCO's routes when offers are on

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Old 30th Nov 2002, 09:41
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Global warming will eventually produce a climate in UK similar to that of the Côte d’Azur, therefore half the tourists won’t wish to fly to the Spanish desert for their cheap holidays, the pollution will decrease and Friends of the Earth will be able to look for something else to worry about. Isn’t the balance of nature amazing?
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Old 30th Nov 2002, 10:14
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Glad you're so confident Max Tout.

The alternative of course is that the Gulf Stream might be pushed south or simply switched off leaving Britain with a climate commensurate with its latitude.
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