Sweden’s rail travel jumps with some help from ‘flight shaming’ [Reuters, 14/02/20]

(Reuters) – Swedish state-owned railway operator SJ reported a 11% rise in 2019 passenger traffic on Thursday, saying concerns over the environmental impact of air travel have contributed to the spike.

The Swedish-born movement of “flight shaming”, which calls for curbs to air travel due to its environmental impact, has gained prominence over the past year and the campaign has already begun affecting markets such as Germany and Sweden, with more passengers choosing the train over flying.

“We got a push from the environmental aspects,” SJ President and CEO Crister Fritzson told Reuters.

Fritzson listed improvements in booking and payment services and punctuality as other factors which helped the railway boost traffic and win market share from airlines on important domestic routes, such as a the one linking Stockholm with Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city.

Last month, Sweden’s state-owned airport operator Swedavia reported a 4% drop in air travel in 2019, with the decline led by a fall in domestic traffic, and cited environmental concerns as one of the reasons behind the decline.

SJ said the number of journeys completed last year with the railway rose by 2.5 million to 34.3 million. Fritzson said the trend looked set to continue in 2020, which would require government investment in the expansion of the country’s rail network.

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