France to ban domestic flights where trains are available, in move to cut emissions

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France is set to ban short domestic flights in favor of train services, after lawmakers approved a plan that will see several air routes discontinued to reduce emissions.

MPs voted late on Saturday to some suspend some flights by domestic airlines that can be made by train in less than two-and-a-half hours, as part of a wider climate bill.

If the bill passes through France’s upper house, the Senate, France will join a number of European countries seeking to move away from short flights.

But some have criticized President Emmanuel Macron for watering down proposals from his own environmental panel, which had recommended a ban on flights where a train journey would take less than four hours.

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said the government’s proposal was “reasonable.” He told lawmakers during the debate that a four-hour threshold “would have really impacted territories that need flights.”

“When there is a robust alternative, usually clients switch to trains,” he said, citing routes from Strasbourg and Bordeaux to Paris. “Each time high-speed lines have competed with flights, we have noticed that trains have largely drained (airline passengers).”

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