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Planes, trains, cost, carbon - how do you travel to and from France?

Travel can throw up questions of price, convenience and climate change - readers share what is important to them

Plane and train

You might have heard of the terms ‘flight shame’ and ‘train bragging’ to describe putting ecology over cost and convenience Pic: Benny Marty / OSTILL is Franck Camhi / Shutterstock

Around the world, more and more people are opting to take the train rather than the plane, despite in many cases paying considerably more to do so.

The SNCF transported 10 percent more passengers this summer than in 2019.

This reflects a wider trend of ‘train bragging’, choosing ecology over convenience, a counterpart to the Swedish word flygskam (‘flight shame’),  which describes the movement aiming to discourage people from taking the plane.

We asked readers if they would be willing to get to their destination a little later to help preserve the environment, particularly for journeys between France and the UK.

Lesley Krier Tither thinks money is not everything

Crime writer Lesley Krier Tither, 70, said: “I feel a great responsibility to leave the planet in 

as good a state as we can.”

She regularly travels from her home in Auvergne to Stockport, via Paris and London. 

“It costs more to take the train from London to Stockport than the flight from Paris to Manchester. But money is not everything.”

Dr Keith Michael Jackson is won over by £10 plane ticket

Former physicist Dr Keith Michael Jackson said: “Last year I flew three times with Ryanair from La Rochelle to London Stansted for less than £10. 

“I prefer to travel by train, but given the figures, what would you do?”

Geoff Taylor prefers convenient, comfortable trains

Retired wood scientist Geoff Taylor, 62, often travels from Marseille to England by train to visit family. 

He said: “I don’t like the two-hour check-ins and potential risk of last-minute delays or cancellation by air.

“My experience of French railways is good. I have more space, wi-fi, air conditioning, and better seating.

“While price is important, I tend to book in advance. I have a senior railcard and take advantage of the discounts.”

 

Retired geologist John Bowles, 81, took trains from Bergerac (Dordogne) to London twice last year. 

“We should no longer expect to get somewhere quickly at the expense of permanent damage to the only planet we have.

“I have hopes that Eurostar will extend south of Paris and that will lead to better ticketing,” he said.

Ellen Moerman said: “I am afraid my green convictions have to give way to financial and time considerations. The plane it shall be.”

Project manager Emma Postlethwaite, 53, said: “I go from Modane (Savoie) to the UK every six months. I always take the train if on my own or drive with my husband.

“A few years ago, I became conscious of the many flights I was taking and I felt uncomfortable. about it.”

The Connexion used the carbon footprint calculator from the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) to compare potential emissions from Ms Postlethwaite’s journey from Modane to Gloucester.

Car - 254kg

Plane - 125kg

Bus - 46.4kg

Electric car - 26.1kg

Train - 4.2kg

 

Readers appreciated the fact that French train tickets mention carbon footprint emissions, unlike British train and plane tickets.

Cost remains an obstacle, however. 

France’s national statistics bureau, Insee, calculated that train tickets increased by 15.3% from January to April.

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