With soaring oil prices making like difficult for airlines, Air France-KLM is discussing setting up a passenger rail service with the transport arm of French water utility Veolia. It would replace planes with trains for some of its short haul journeys in Europe. Veolia’s transport division is Europe’s leading private rail-freight operator and it also runs passenger services, though none of them are high speed.
Any such service could not be launched before January 2010 which is when the European Union plans to allow competition for international passenger rail travel.
France has the available infrastructure; its high speed trains – operated by state owned SNCF – connect with similar services running into Germany, Belgium and the Eurostar to Britain. An Air France-Veolia joint venture would run trains from the airline’s hub at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport to destinations across Europe.
Because of the high price of fuel, Air France-KLM is also going to make changes to its flight schedules for next winter. The airline said it will put on fewer flights than it had previously planned; details are to be released in September.