(Natural News) The French government is set to ban short-haul domestic flights to endorse train options that take less than two and a half hours, after 2021 climate law known as No. 2021-1104 received permission from the European Commission (EC).
According to the EC decision report published on Dec. 2, Article 145.I of the law prohibits passenger flights on all air routes within French territory for which there are several direct rail connections per day of less than two and a half hours.
The proposal, which aimed at cutting down carbon emissions, will directly affect three major air routes: between Paris and Orly, Paris and Lyon and Nantes and Bordeaux airports.
Reports said an intention to improve rail services and decrease the journey duration could also cancel routes from Paris and Rennes to Lyon and Marseille. The said move is seen to take several months to take effect and should last for three years initially. A review of its effectiveness will be done after two years.
The move was lauded by government officials, including France’s Transport Minister Clement Beaune, who called the move a “major step forward.” He remarked: “I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area.”
Moreover, French MEP Karima Delli of the Green Party called it a “victory” for environmental campaigners, but insisted that “the threshold must be raised to four hours, and above all, include private jets in the ban.”
As expected, the independent global campaigning network Greenpeace highly approved the initiative.
“The French ban on short-haul flights where quick train connections exist is a baby step, but it’s one in the right direction,” said Thomas Gelin, the organization’s European Union climate campaigner.
Meanwhile, the EC dismissed the protests lodged by French airports and airline lobbyists against the decision.
Critics says that the new rule will not have much of an impact on the environment because air traffic on the routes had considerably declined since the pandemic shutdowns. But the EC said in its report that “unquantifiable environmental benefits may nonetheless be generated since air carriers potentially interested in operating these routes will be prevented from doing so.” (Related: European Union sentences hundreds of millions to perpetual poverty after passing new ‘carbon emissions’ bill.)
Rail workers’ strike cripples French train operations
Over the weekend, around 60 percent of high-speed and intercity trains were canceled as rail workers embarked on a three-day strike recently that ran from Dec. 3 to 4, leading to major rail transport disruption in France.
Protesters from he Societe nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) called out the country’s minister of transport to call for “collective responsibility.” The unions have also filed a strike notice for Christmas and New Year’s weekends.
EuroNews reported that 10,000 SNCF conductors, nearly 3,000 of which are with Trains à Grande Vitesse (TGV) and intercity trains, work to maintain traffic and passenger safety. Trains cannot run without them.
About four out of 10 TGV and Intercity trains were running on Dec. 3. According to SNCF, a hundred percent refund was available for anyone with tickets booked for strike days even if their train was not canceled. There were also offers of free alteration onto any service until Dec. 8.
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