With the travel industry seeking ways to reduce carbon emissions generated by air travel, Germany has come up with a way to encourage more people to switch from planes to trains for domestic routes.

The German Aviation Association and rail company Deutsche Bahn have agreed to offer more high-speed rail connections on routes currently served by short-haul flights. Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn have already unveiled plans to run extra-fast DB “Sprinter” trains to Frankfurt Airport from five extra cities as part of the expansion of the Lufthansa Express Rail network.

A couple hugging at a German train station with a train in the background
Extra-fast DB “Sprinter” trains will run to Frankfurt Airport © Lufthansa

The service from Hamburg and Munich will begin in July, while the service from Berlin, Bremen and Münster will commence in December. In addition, new Sprinter connections will make their debut from December. The rail journey between Munich and Cologne will be shortened to less than four hours, and there will be direct trains to Frankfurt Airport twice a day from and to Munich and Nuremberg in three and two hours respectively, with no additional stops in between. These will be precisely timed with the departure and arrival times of flights at Lufthansa’s hub, allowing travelers from outside Frankfurt to skip the domestic flight and still arrive in time to take a longer flight out of the massive airport. 

According to the German Aviation Association, aviation accounts for 2.8% of global CO2 emissions and the share of air transport in global warming as a whole is between 3 and 5%. Its Master Plan for Climate Protection in Aviation says that German aviation companies are committed to the goal of carbon-neutral airport and flight operations. If the scheme is successful, the association and Deutsche Bahn hope that around 4.3 million people per year will choose to travel by train instead of plane for domestic flights. Further information can be found on the German Aviation Association's website here.

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