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Message 598540 - Posted: 4 Jul 2007, 18:44:06 UTC
Last modified: 4 Jul 2007, 18:44:29 UTC

Green appeal helps UK trains in battle vs. planes

By Pete Harrison Tue Jul 3, 1:49 PM ET


[Caption: A rail commuter walks down steps at Waverly train station in Edinburgh, December 27, 2006. The train is catching up with the plane in Britain, with airports reporting fewer domestic travelers and trains becoming ever more full. (David Moir/Reuters)]
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LONDON (Reuters) - The train is catching up with the plane in Britain, with airports reporting fewer domestic travelers and trains becoming ever more full.

Liverpool's John Lennon Airport last week finally fell victim to the rise of rail after years of competition when Belgian airline VLM scrapped its last flights from London, saying it could not make money on them.

At nearby Manchester Airport, the number of domestic travelers fell by 8.6 percent to 1.33 million in the first five months of this year.

And while airline executives argue that the weakness is largely due to consumer sentiment, train companies have seen no such evidence.

Journeys between Manchester and London were up 18.2 percent to around 821,700 in a similar timeframe, says Virgin Rail, a joint venture between Stagecoach and Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

In recent years, journeys which typically took over four hours by rail - such as London to Edinburgh - were successfully targeted by airlines.

But the sector's rule of thumb is changing in Britain amid tight airport security which slows boarding and the impact of rising taxes and interest rates.

And this year, aviation has also started to face a growing challenge from environmentally-conscious travelers concerned at CO2 emissions from planes.

MODAL SHIFT

"Environmental issues have had a major impact," said Stagecoach Chief Executive Brian Souter. "We are seeing a modal shift."

The environmental statistics vary wildly, putting the CO2 impact of aviation anywhere between four and ten times that of rail on domestic-length journeys.

But airline executives argue money and time are still the biggest factors. "If people do have an environmental conscience, you can buy it for a fiver," said one.

And European air travel is still expected to double by 2020, says the industry body Airports Council International.

But UK domestic aviation has been suffering for the last few months as consumers tighten purse strings amid rising interest rates and terrorism fears, highlighted last week when two attackers rammed a burning Jeep into Glasgow airport.

A failed plot to bomb transatlantic airliners last August had already led to a crackdown at UK airports causing queues and delays and forcing some travelers back on to long-distance trains.

There they discovered that the slow, overcrowded carriages they remembered had been replaced by slicker, faster trains as years of investment in once-creaking infrastructure starts to make itself felt.

Many trains have power sockets and WiFi wireless internet to attract business travelers.

"People are now treating the train as an extension of the office," said a Virgin Rail spokesman. "We hear of lawyers billing for four or five hundred pounds while on the train."

With rail in the ascendancy and two major franchises up for grabs in coming months -- Cross Country and InterCity East Coast -- competition is heating up between operators such as Stagecoach, National Express, FirstGroup and Arriva.

THE HEAVIEST BLOW

The heaviest blow for domestic airlines came when then-Finance Minister Gordon Brown doubled airport tax (APD) from Feb 1 because of environmental concerns, forcing up air fares, said an easyJet spokesman.

The long-term decline in UK domestic aviation is inevitable, having only been given room to grow due to the lack of investment in high speed railways, says Chris Green, chairman of the Railway Forum.

"We are out of step with the rest of Europe, but ultimately domestic aviation will decline as high speed lines replace them," he added. "The change has started, which is very exciting."

Longer term, a new north-south high speed rail link could persuade 90 percent of travelers to switch to the train for journeys from London to Manchester, up from around 55 percent today, says Jim Steer, a former managing director of Britain's Strategic Rail Authority.

Steer is campaigning, through his group Greengauge21, for that link to be built, which would cut the journey time between London and Manchester from today's 130 minutes to 90 minutes.

EasyJet Chief Executive Andy Harrison told Reuters in a recent interview he was not overly concerned by increasing competition from trains, but added: "If we ever had a true high speed rail service to Scotland, that would affect the airlines."

Steer says that with a high speed link to Manchester and further upgrades north of there, the journey time to central Scotland could be cut to 3 hours.

However Steer says the 11 billion pounds ($22.1 billion) project is still at least 10 years away, even with strong political backing.
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Message 601641 - Posted: 11 Jul 2007, 6:12:08 UTC

Post moved per Sarge's request.

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Message 602127 - Posted: 12 Jul 2007, 1:09:00 UTC

The reason for not flying is security and time waiting in lines at the airport.

4 hour train ride

vs

30 min flight
1.5-3 hours in security check lines
.5 check in/boarding
.5 walking in airport
plus time to get to/from airports.

Trains have currently captured the upper hand for domestic travel due to time and security.

The only people who would take the train due to environment is holiday travelers. Cheaper travel, no time worries. There will be the odd buissnes person who will but most will take the less time option over cost.

~BoB


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Message 602149 - Posted: 12 Jul 2007, 2:17:43 UTC

The costs of the train can be incredibly cheaper than the airfare.
I wonder about the countries with high-speed trains. The USA certainly has little to none of that. In those other countries, how do train vs. plane usages within the country compare? Why? Have any of those decisions been made taking the environment into consideration.
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Message 609829 - Posted: 27 Jul 2007, 15:56:47 UTC
Last modified: 27 Jul 2007, 15:58:33 UTC


Boeing’s experimental X-48B plane prepared for testing. The unmanned, blended-wing aircraft recently flew for the first time, reaching an altitude of 7,500ft (2,300m). The innovative design is quieter and more fuel efficient than conventional aircraft.
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Message 610329 - Posted: 28 Jul 2007, 1:42:44 UTC - in response to Message 609829.


Boeing’s experimental X-48B plane prepared for testing. The unmanned, blended-wing aircraft recently flew for the first time, reaching an altitude of 7,500ft (2,300m). The innovative design is quieter and more fuel efficient than conventional aircraft.

Military or commercial plans?
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Message 610577 - Posted: 28 Jul 2007, 15:22:47 UTC - in response to Message 610329.
Last modified: 28 Jul 2007, 15:29:02 UTC


Boeing’s experimental X-48B plane prepared for testing. The unmanned, blended-wing aircraft recently flew for the first time, reaching an altitude of 7,500ft (2,300m). The innovative design is quieter and more fuel efficient than conventional aircraft.

Military or commercial plans?

Looks to me as though it will be a Military aircraft
more here
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Message 610615 - Posted: 28 Jul 2007, 16:59:12 UTC

It does look that way. Any evidence?
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Message 611004 - Posted: 29 Jul 2007, 12:36:55 UTC - in response to Message 610615.

It does look that way. Any evidence?


Last I heard about that, it's just a general design; good for cargo more than people (lots of space in the wing, no windows though).


On the train thing, one of the scandinavian countries said that a fast electric train emitted something like 20g of carbon per passenger over 100km (lubricants & stuff I guess) when the electricty was sourced renewably, compared to 60kg for air and a bit less for cars. Massive difference, I didn't realise the rail was that much more efficient.
I wonder how an electric car would do?
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Message 611582 - Posted: 30 Jul 2007, 14:27:41 UTC - in response to Message 611004.

It does look that way. Any evidence?


Last I heard about that, it's just a general design; good for cargo more than people (lots of space in the wing, no windows though).


Ah, yes, I suppose it could also serve for cargo carrying purposes. Referencing the rest of your post below, what would the pros and cons of this approach vs. trucks be?

On the train thing, one of the scandinavian countries said that a fast electric train emitted something like 20g of carbon per passenger over 100km (lubricants & stuff I guess) when the electricty was sourced renewably, compared to 60kg for air and a bit less for cars. Massive difference, I didn't realise the rail was that much more efficient.
I wonder how an electric car would do?


Very interesting.
Do you have links or full articles to share on this?
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Message 611645 - Posted: 30 Jul 2007, 16:31:23 UTC - in response to Message 611582.


Ah, yes, I suppose it could also serve for cargo carrying purposes. Referencing the rest of your post below, what would the pros and cons of this approach vs. trucks be?


The fact that it can travel accross more than half the planet in a day vs weeks for trucks/ships. The only downside is a slightly higher cost.

~BoB
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Message 612146 - Posted: 30 Jul 2007, 23:51:39 UTC - in response to Message 611645.
Last modified: 30 Jul 2007, 23:54:07 UTC

a full high-speed electric train emits between a tenth and a quarter of the carbon dioxide of a plane, according to the bosses of Eurostar.

http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9441785&CFID=15378752&CFTOKEN=87389006

This one isn't what I was looking for, but has similar figures:
Only 40 per of Britain’s rail network is electrified, the lowest proportion of any large European country. The best-performing electric trains are operated by GNER between London and Edinburgh and emit only 40g of CO2 per passenger-kilometre (g/pkm) compared with 112g/pkm for Voyagers.

By 2022, more efficient power generation will have reduced the emissions of the GNER trains to 28g/pkm. But the emissions of the Voyagers, which are only five years old and are due to remain in service until after 2030, will be unchanged. On present trends, emissions from the average car will have been reduced from 131g/pkm to 98g/pkm by 2022.

http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/article2067255.ece

OK, so I muddled the figures a bit in my head! However, these British examples are suboptimal, because apparently Britain is way behind the times in electrification and train construction compared to the Japanese Shinkansen, and probably the French TGV, Eurostar trains as well.
A lot of their train fleet is also diesel, which can even be worse than driving the car under some circumstances.

The thing is, I definitely remember hearing g vs kg in the article (it was a news article on the TV). However, the reporter could easily have got it wrong; recently here in Melbourne, Australia, we had a fire on one of the main electricty interconnects to a major generation plant. The TV claimed it was a 330v line... (the interconnect is of course much higher voltage, 330 000v.) So you can't believe everything you hear, I guess : )
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