Supporting train travel by charging a fair price for carbon emissions: Eurostar boss
A true carbon price would remove a big reason for travelers to fly from London to Amsterdam – or other routes with good alternatives, the Eurostar boss said.
Jacques Damas said that “there is no point in flying” between the two cities, but the airlines were able to reduce rail because they faced lower costs and did not have to pay the cost of the rail. carbon they emitted.
By encouraging travelers to take the train instead of taking the plane, it could reduce global emissions, the boss told the PA news agency on the eve of a United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow .
The cost of carbon is vastly different around the world, from a dollar per tonne in Ukraine to 130 in Sweden, and many countries have no carbon pricing at all.
Experts say the real social cost of carbon is closer to Â£ 500 per tonne, Mr Damascus said.
At that sort of price, it could add around Â£ 36 to the price of a flight from London to Amsterdam – which emits around 73 kilograms, according to airline KLM.
Someday travel might be possible without carbon emissions, but truly sustainable air travel is decades away, Damascus said.
Until then, the best way to encourage people to choose sustainable travel is to put a fair price on carbon.
But to leave less money for customers when they switch to the train, rail must also be made more affordable, the managing director said.
Every time one of Mr Damascus’s trains goes from the UK to France he has to pay Â£ 16 to the company that operates the Channel Tunnel.
He said 60% of Eurostar’s costs come simply from paying to use the rail lines in the countries in which it operates. If these fees were reduced, the savings could be passed on to customers.
So while airlines can sell routes from London to Amsterdam for just Â£ 23, the cheapest Eurostar fare to Amsterdam is Â£ 50.
âThe cost of railâ¦ does not reflect the social benefit that this mode of transport brings to citizens. It’s not about taxing airlines, it’s about saying let’s pay for the carbon you use, âhe said.
âWe have to lower the price,â he said.
âSo without asking ‘who do I choose’, the price will drive you to choose (the train),â he said.
Railways can last for centuries, so countries that build them should expect to be paid back over a much longer period, the boss added.
Nowadays, a government often wants a new railway to pay for itself within decades, but the cost to rail operators, and therefore to customers, could be reduced if that payback period was extended.
Mr. Damas also called for a better organization of schedules to save time on journeys, and energy networks to wean off coal and gas so that electric trains are even less carbon-intensive.