Last week France officially introduced its ban on short-haul flights.
The final version of the law means that journeys which can be taken in under 2.5 hours by train can’t be taken by plane. There also needs to be enough trains throughout the day that travellers can spend at least eight hours at their destination.
Clement Beaune, the country’s Transport Minister, called the measures an “essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
So, as Europe looks to undergo a rail revolution by encouraging people to consider trains before planes, could the new law be the first of many?
Is the public behind a ban on short-haul flights?
A 2020 European Investment Bank survey already found widespread support from the public.
More than 60 per cent of people surveyed supported a ban on short-haul flights.
And Greenpeace demanded an EU-wide ban in 2021 for any flights where a rail journey would take under six hours.
Speaking to inews after the French ban was signed into law, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility called for the EU to follow France’s example.
Georges Gilkinet told the British newspaper that a ban needed to be on a “European level” with support for night trains and the bloc’s rail network.
Watering down France’s short-haul flight ban
The short-haul flight legislation was first proposed in 2021 as part of France’s Climate Law and its official introduction has been hard-won with fierce opposition from the aviation industry.