Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Air France considering entering HSR business

File this one under ‘Woah.’ Air France, France’s national air carrier and one of the world’s largest airlines, is considering replacing some of its connecting flights with high-speed rail service in conjunction with Veolia Transport, also of France. According to the International Herald Tribune:

“More than half of all flights are connections, and in effect long-haul is where the value is. Short haul is just way for Air France to get passengers to Charles de Gaulle” airport in Paris, Van den Brul said.

Shifting passengers onto trains from planes would result in “significant” cost savings, a particular concern for airlines struggling to cope with record high oil prices.

Energy accounts for about 40 percent of an airline’s total costs, against only around 10-15 percent for rail.

This is pretty nutty stuff. In the US at least, airlines have been suppressing passenger rail for decades. Hence, it’s more than a little ironic that at least one of them is turning to the efficiencies of HSR to save their collapsing business model.

And this is exactly the market high-speed rail can appeal to. Planes are always going to dominate the long-haul routes. New York-Los Angeles, Miami-Seattle, any overseas travel for obvious reasons… some routes are too far for even fast trains to really compete with air travel. But Minneapolis-Chicago, Boston-Washington, Los Angeles-San Francisco, these are the lengths where high-speed trains are eminently more practical than planes. With fuel costs for airlines rising, particularly on these short trips, we can only hope that more airlines like Air France will see that HSR can benefit them as well as us.

This is what we want: More transportation options.

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Filed under: International High Speed Rail, , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. Keith Jones says:

    Several years ago Veolia bought a large US transit management firm, ATC. It manages a lot of public transit systems including a few rail properties. Who knows, maybe Veolia can talk to American, Southwest, Delta and start a rational intercity train plan here in the US!

  2. skiddie says:

    It’s not really clear from that article what they’re planning. However, at its most basic, it could amount to simply providing the short-haul connections by handing people a train ticket and coordinating the baggage and other transfer logistics.

    Based on that theory, it’s a great idea. Because the TGV station at Charles de Gaulle is so well integrated into the larger TGV network, it removes the need to move from the convenient city-center train station to the out-of-town airport: one section of the trip does that for you.

    Real inter modal transport at work.

  3. [...] about how Air France-KLM (or whatever they’re called in these days of airline mergers) was considering getting into the high-speed rail business when the EU liberalizes international rail travel in 2010. That plan took a more solid form today [...]

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