KLM ditches one of its European flights in favor of trains

Sep 17, 2019

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A major European airline is cutting back on flights and replacing that capacity with high-speed trains instead.

From 29 March 2020, Dutch flag carrier KLM will replace one of its five daily flights from Amsterdam to Brussels with trains operated by the French-Belgian high-speed rail company Thalys. The flight between the two cities is so short that passengers spend only a brief 20 minutes in the sky, compared to the two-hour train journey.

The carrier says the benefits from the change are twofold. First, using more environmentally friendly forms of transport would support KLM’s drive for sustainability. Secondly, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (AMS) suffers from tight restrictions on the number of departures and arrivals that are permitted on any given day. Reductions in short-haul flights would release slots that can be used for long-haul flights instead.

The airline would buy capacity on the trains, which it would then sell. The TGV Thalys high-speed trains, which connect Paris with Amsterdam in a little over three hours, also pull into the station connected to Schiphol, enabling seamless connections to KLMN flights.

According to a Railway Gazette, KLM is in favor of using rail instead of flying on short-haul routes as long as trains “fully match the speed, reliability and comfort that air travel offers”. When compared like-for-like, a two-hour train journey seems longer than a 20-minute flight. But, when you include travel time to and from the arrival and departure airports plus the waiting time in the airport before the flight, flying then becomes a longer journey than the two-hour train ride that runs directly between the two city centers.

If you’re curious about how taking a plane versus a train over a short distance between major European cities would look and feel, TPG UK recently tested it out by racing from Buckingham Palace to the Eiffel Tower in a bid to test whether plane or train would be the quickest mode of transport for the journey between London and Paris.

Feature image by Daniel Ross/TPG

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