Prepare for more fast trains
Preparing for long- distance train
Travelling overland where flights aer available is often still the exception. Even though it is very doable in a comfortable way. The problem is not the amount of high-speed tracks; it's often the amount of trains that run on them and the costs. This is about to change. The market for train operators will be opened up in the coming years. Operators have applied in large numbers; they want to compete, offer more trains and better prices. Spain is ahead of the game as they have opened up their train market years ago. The 'Spanish model' is widely considered the best towards a future-proof travel market. In other countries, the opening up of international rail means a fierce competition for space on the tracks. We need to prepare now to claim that space. That means optimizing local trains, fewer but longer for example. Or discouraging people from choosing jobs that require commuting on a track that is shared with long distance fast trains.
Better marketing of travel is another way to facilitate a shift towards trains. For example:
- Facilitate public transport travel to the most scenic national parks. Especially where they compete with images of far-flung destinations. So you can actually get there without a fly-drive.
- Organize marketing of cities' qualities as a stopover for a part of a day or a night. For example: promote that late afternoon drink in a scenic background in key midway destinations like Basel or Montpellier.
- Stimulate easy access to lockers, urban bike-rental systems and - where needed - electric vehicle rental on train stations.
- Focus on a new target group with no natural love for trains and promote fastest and most comfortable connections and ticketing. The existing train-fans will find their way themselves.
- Maximize the network of daytime connections and integrate marketing with bus connections where needed, especially on important low-frequency routes in North America.
- Fix Paris. Reshuffle schedules and build that extra platform in Marne-la-Vallee to allow fast connections between long-distance trains, avoiding difficult connections between stations in Paris.
- Invest in the pioneer group that extends the frame for overland travel possibilities. Reliable daytime train and bus connections can take a European tourist to Mauritania, while Senegalese company Dem-Dikk struggles to provide new international, comfortable and fixed-schedule connections from there to capitals further south. This connects Europe to lush and tropical areas, a symbolic win if this can now be done in comfortable, reliable and future-proof fas
Continents and islands are very poorly connected by maritime ways, which are much easier to decarbonize than flights. Remaining ferries often exist mainly for passengers wishing to haul their own cars, which make them oversized and more difficult to decarbonize. Passengers arriving by train and bus can feel like unwanted guests, having to navigate between cars through uninviting corridors. There is much room for improvement in maritime travel. Even if just a small percentage of holiday makers start to take the low carbon route, it helps normalizing the alternative. Some first steps:
- Connect Shetland and the Faroe Islands by ferry again, for example with an extra Smyrill line stop in Lerwick. This way Iceland will be connected by ferries to the British Isles and a combination of destinations will be possible
- Create a (non-cruise) ferry connection between Iceland and Greenland and Greenland and Canada.
- Create a foot-passenger-oriented ferry connection between Greece and Egypt, for example between Crete and the small port of Marsa Matruh, to minimze distance and connect to Egyptian high speed rail.
- Facilitate integration of foot passengers with cargo ships and customs regulations. Especially on ports that create strategic maritime and overland routes, like Port-Said.
- Choose maritime corridors that provide a short connection between main land corridors and create connections for foot-passengers only.
- Start a fair-pricing system on car and passenger ferries, based on emissions relating to weight of cars versus foot-passengers and their respective required services.
- Stop airport discounts for car rental agencies and facilitate locations in ports or near main train or bus stations.
- Create inviting infrastructure for train / bus - boat transfers and allow for comfortable transfer of luggage.
- Stimulate marketing for low-carbon maritime travel, including multimodal low-carbon transportation packages.