European Commission’s Vice President Siim Kallas is believed to be considering plans to develop high-speed rail networks across the UK and Europe in a bid to decrease short-haul air transport services (The Guardian, 18-Mar-2011). The European Commission aims to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector by 60% over the next 40 years. Mr Kallas stated that congestion problems at European airports could be eased by cutting domestic and European services, while demand for new runways could be suppressed by building new high-speed rail networks. He noted the impact of a high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona, one of Europe’s busiest air transport services, which has taken 50% of short-haul flight business.
European Commission: "At Heathrow there are no new runways, but we desperately need to increase capacity and you can do this if you reduce short-haul flight connections … This has happened in Madrid and Barcelona, where 50% of the market has moved to high-speed rail. It is comfortable for everybody. Airlines can put emphasis on long-haul flights, which is better for their business.” Siim Kallas, VP Transport. Source: The Guardian, 18-Mar-2011.