Alright, the aviation industry is in a crisis with soaring kerosene prices narrowing profit margins or even make airlines suffer losses despite a high seat occupancy. However, it appears somehow strange to me that Europe’s largest airline plans to replace planes with trains on some short-haul destinations. Air France-KLM is in talks with the transport unit of Veolia about the plan of setting up a passenger rail service. The strategic partnership of the two Paris-based companies should establish a new European high-speed rail company. Thus, some short-haul flights from Air France’s hub Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) could only be available as train service in the future. Air France already abandoned its air service from Paris to Brussels in 2001 and started to book passengers on Thalys trains on the basis of a code sharing agreement.
Possibly, trains with “Air France” emblazoned on their sides could link CDG with Frankfurt airport, Amsterdam and other European destinations. As operating trains instead of planes is cheaper and increases the capacity, this could soon become an attractive alternative to operating regional flights for many airlines around the globe. The trains will be programmed to meet intercontinental flights and will ease the problem of limited airport slots. Reliability is another point. Train services could be more reliable than planes if the rail companiesmanaged to organize their networks more efficiently. Besides, the trains could offer business class comfort to all passengers with more seat-comfort, extra legroom, at-seat meals and beverage service. If operated as non-stop trains, the ride would definitely be more comfortable than the established high-speed rail services with numerous stops, overbooked coaches and with a somewhat different kind of passengers – I guess you know what I mean. After a meeting, you just want to sit down on your seat and relax or work in a quiet atmosphere. But as usual, the journey will be anything but relaxed. The train won’t arrive on time, next to you, there’s a mother traveling with two restless children running around, making loud sounds and playing Gameboy and finally, you’ll be begging desperately that the connecting train will still be at the station when you’re getting off the train after an arduous journey.
Traveling with Air France trains could be a real alternative if passengers can check their luggage at the station requiring the IATA to approve airport baggage codes for the train stations. The trains would probably have flight numbers, seats would be assigned for the plane and the train by booking the long-haul flight and the journey would be similar to flying short distances. On short-haul flights, most of the time is needed for checking-in, security screening and waiting in the terminal, on the tarmac and on the runway.