Saturday, August 8, 2009

What High Speed Rail Can Do To Regional Air Travel

Back in March I posted about an old document on Kentucky's high speed rail thoughts of 1999. In that post I linked to a projection that Spain's short haul air travel would be affected.

Today I have a link to some more recent facts. People are getting around Spain in more comfort and more ease by train than by plane, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
High-speed trains pulled by aerodynamic engines with noses shaped like a duck-billed platypus are grounding aircraft across Spain. The year-old Barcelona-Madrid line has already taken 46% of the traffic – stealing most of it from fuel-guzzling, carbon-emitting aircraft. As the high-speed rail network spreads a web of tracks across Spain over the next decade, it threatens to relegate domestic air travel to a distant second place.
46% This is the kind of results that the US should be experiencing today, if they had started planning for high speed rail(or any kind of rail) following the gas crisis of the '70s.

From England we get a report that their new Secretary of Transport, Lord Adonis is advocating the end of domestic air travel and even the short flights to European destinations. The comments come as air passengers are having to contend with the scrapping of hundreds of flights a week by airlines and fact that domestic flights have been in steady decline in recent years, with the number of passengers dropping from 26.1 million in 2005 to 24.3 million last year.

How about Germany? Even there we see a sharp reduction in domestic air travel.
Germany's high-speed rail network has put pain to short-haul flights between several cities. Once, there were hundreds of flights a day transferring tens of thousands of passengers between Berlin and Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Bremen and Cologne. All have been closed down due to cheaper and faster rail travel.
Is it any wonder that President Obama and Transportation Secretary La Hood are talking about America's need to join the High Speed Rail community? Of the industrialized nations, only one has fewer planned HSR miles than the US. The tiny island nation of Taiwan. These industrialized nations are also charging ahead with expansion and funding that roughly equals what we spend in federal money on highways.

I won't even speak about the fact that their (Obama and La Hood) idea of HSR is less than half the speed of the those who are really doing something.

I also want to thank The Overhead Wire and Broken Sidewalk for the links. I had a record day for visitors.

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