SPAIN is considering joining other European countries in halting short-haul flights in a bid to address climate change.
The proposals would be following in the footsteps of France, whose ban on domestic flights covering routes that can be travelled by train in under two-and-a-half hours came into effect last month.
Over the past 12 months, there were a staggering 5,744 flights between Barcelona and Madrid, according to a recent study by travel experts Mabrian and Phocuswright.
The report found that the average carbon footprint per passenger on the Barcelona-Madrid air route is 40 kg of CO2.
And the route, at just 630 kilometres, is a prime candidate for being closed to air flight, considering it can be crossed by regular train in just two-and-a-half hours.
And the high-speed AVE train can do it in a little over one hour.
Total travel time flying from Barcelona to Madrid is 3.5 hours, according to the report.
Furthermore, the study indicated that the total CO2 emissions from air travel between the Spanish and Catalan capitals in 2022 amounted to approximately 54,000 tonnes.
This represents a significant 132% increase in emissions compared to 27,000 tonnes emitted by trains carrying the same number of passengers.
A separate report found that high-speed trains emit around 17.2 kg of CO2 per passenger and journey, which can be further reduced to 9.6 kg per passenger when using renewable energy sources.
Trains also offer the convenience of departing from within cities, as opposed to trekking out airports which are often located outside urban areas, resulting in additional energy consumption and transportation costs.
And, crucially, prices were found to be comparable over a 12-month period.
Spain could be ready to handle a ban on short-haul domestic flights should it arise, with 21 high-speed train routes operating daily between Barcelona and Madrid and 8,800 seats.
Air connections over 16 flights daily with just 3,200 seats.
Operators, Ouigo (SNCF) and the Italian joint venture, Iryo (Trenitalia) are also set to expand their services to other high-speed routes in 2023, such as Madrid-Valencia and Madrid-Seville-Málaga.
Last month, the French transport minister, Clement Beaune, hailed his country’s decision to ban short-haul flights.
“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonise our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” he is reported to have said.
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