The impact of high-speed rail and low-cost carriers on European air passenger traffic
Author(s)Clewlow, Regina R.; Sussman, Joseph M.; Balakrishnan, Hamsa
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 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 tra c; 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.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
ESD Working Papers;ESD-WP-2013-13