Europe's Airlines Adapt for High-Speed Rail

It’s fascinating to see how the airline industry is coping with the see-sawing price of fuel and the dearth of travelers. Some are expanding, like Virgin Atlantic, which has ordered 10 new planes to beef up its fleet. Some (many, really) are merging. Some are cutting service. And some are shifting their focus from air to land, catering to travelers’ environmental and financial concerns—and proactively keeping their businesses afloat as the industry changes. Air France and Veolia are looking into jointly operating high-speed rail services in Europe starting next year, and Virgin Trains are already expanding in the UK.

High-speed trains, as has been said here many times, are much more environmentally friendly than planes, and can bring travelers directly from one downtown area to another. When they travel the same distance by plane, they must arrange for transportation to the airport, arrive significantly early, and then arrange for transportation from their destination airport. Small wonder that several European governments have put the pressure on airlines to drop short-haul flights in favor of high-speed trains.

All of which begs the question: When will America catch up? Amtrak’s Acela service has a top speed of 150 miles per hour—half that of many other countries. Will the airline industry in America follow Air France and Virgin’s lead and start investing in trains? Sound off in AgentNation!


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