The above headliner in a Dutch newspaper reflects a business-as-usual perspective at Europe’s busiest airport . The International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) expects the total number of air passengers in 2023 to be close to pre-COVID levels, and raise from 2024 onwards .
This does not mean that people are not receptive to change. To fight the climate crisis, an overwhelming 87 % of EU citizens are willing to replace short-distance flights with fast, low-polluting trains together with neighboring countries, compared to 71 % in the US .
The main benefits of rail traveling compared to other means of transportation are that: (1) Travel time can be used differently (e.g., for working, sleeping, or reading); (2) You can see more of the journey (e.g., scenery); (3) Trains are safer; and (4) Trains produce less greenhouse gas emissions .
Night trains are making a comeback in Europe. After decades of closing night train lines, European governments and railway companies and actors have chosen a different path now. The Austrian railway company ÖBB is expanding its NightJet network across Europe, the French government announced the reintroduction of ten night-train lines, and the Swedish government wants to run a night train to Brussels . The already existing Italian night railway is shown here.
However, the rail sector also faces the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The higher energy prices lead to increasing purchasing costs of electricity for companies without long-term contracts. Moreover, SCI Verkehr claims that train wagon manufacturers will increase their prices by 30 %, which would have severe drawbacks for the operators who will not be able to pass on these costs in full to the market .