Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on July 12, 2008
I want to know what happened to the railway industry in this country. We all know that air travel causes far more pollution than trains. According to The Guardian: “Fly from London to Edinburgh for the weekend and you produce 193kg of CO2, eight times the 23.8kg you produce by taking the train. Moreover, the pollution is released at an altitude where its effect on climate change is more than double that on the ground.”
Given that every bit helps, why isn’t the train industry flourishing, at least for national travel? The answer is easy: time and money. A journey from downtown New York to downtown Boston will take you four hours and fifteen minutes by Amtrak versus the two hours and fifty minutes it’ll take to get you there by plane. And the plane fare is almost 25 percent cheaper than that of the train.
But Spain may be changing all that. Their new AVE S103 train will get you from Madrid to Barcelona in two-and-a-half hours, which is only negligibly longer than the journey would be if taken by a massive carbon producing plane. Hitting peak speeds of 350 km/h, the train accommodates 400 people and the above mentioned trip will only set you back the equivalent of $30 to $80 (depending on which class you take). Amenity-wise, it blows the plane out of the sky: audio, video, internet, food – all the things we seem to be slowly losing as we fly the carbon filled skies.
The Spanish Government is behind the AVE one hundred percent. They’ve even embraced it as the country’s primary mode of inter-city travel, with plans to expand the ground covered by the high-speed train to eventually make easy to get anywhere in Spain and to parts of France. If the AVE takes off (figuratively), it could possibly be the safer, more affordable, more reliable and more environmentally friendly way to get around Europe. It may even kill the airplane industry.
So, here’s to hoping the United States jumps on board as well. Given the choice of flying from L.A. to Miami or high-speed training it, wouldn’t you rather save money, limit your CO2 contribution and surf the internet – especially if you didn’t have to sacrifice much in the area of time? I know I would.