The impact of high-speed rail and low-cost carriers on European air passenger traffic

The expansion of high-speed passenger rail service is often argued as a potentially effective, lower-carbon substitute for intercity air travel. Previous studies on the impact of high-speed rail on air travel in Europe and Asia have primarily examined the impact of travel time and price on market share for a specific city pair (or a handful of city pairs). There has been little focus on the extent to which high-speed rail (HSR) has reduced total short-haul air travel demand (versus market share), or on the potential impacts of high-speed rail on system-wide air travel demand. This paper presents an empirical, econometric analysis of air travel demand in Europe, utilizing an expanded data set to explore: (1) the impact of rail travel times, population density, and market characteristics on air traffic; and (2) the impact of high-speed rail and low-cost-carriers on system-wide air traffic. Although improvements in rail travel times have resulted in reductions in short-haul air travel, variations in city and airport characteristics significantly influence the substitution between air and rail. This paper also finds that HSR substitution has resulted in a modest reduction in system-wide air travel demand, whereas the expansion of low-cost carriers has led to a significant increase in total European air traffic. As concerns about the climate impacts of transportation grow, these results have significant implications for future transport and energy policy.


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  • Accession Number: 01526467
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 19 2014 1:12PM