Train Travel Gains Popularity as 'Flight Shame' Trends in Europe

A greener life means fewer flights for many Europeans.

August 20, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Sweden

DimaSid / Shutterstock

Lisa Abend reports on the growing popularity of train travel over air travel among an increasingly eco-conscious European population:

This is the season of flygskam, or “flight shame.” You don’t have to be Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who recently announced plans to sail to New York in August, to recognize that a growing number of Europeans eager to reduce their carbon footprint are opting to limit air travel in favor of more environmentally-friendly means of transportation. 

The counterpart of flygskam is tagskryt, or train-bragging, notes Abend. European counties and private rail companies are responding the new cultural milieu by considering the return of long distance night-time trains.

The cultural trend is aided by two grassroots initiatives: "Flygfritt, which convinced 14,500 Swedes to renounce air travel in 2019 (it’s shooting for 100,000 in 2020) and Tagsemester, a Facebook group with nearly 100,000 members, that offers information on how to travel by train."

In case the Swedish origin of the word might imply that the trend is confined to the Scandinavian states, Abend also expands the purview of the discussion:

Yet Sweden isn’t the only place feeling the effects of flygskam (in fact, the DutchGermans, and Finns have their own words for it). Flygfritt now has chapters in the UK, France, and Germany and according to Eurail and Interrail General Manager Carlo Boselli, flygskam is influencing the decision to purchase the rail passes (which allow for cross-border travel anywhere on the continent) as well.

The movement has enough traction in Germany, for instance, that the Alliance 90/The Greens political party recently announced a plan to replace domestic air travel with train travel by 2035.

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