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Air-Rail Relationships -> The Race has Begun (In Europe)!


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Next meeting: Oct 5th: 8pm Central


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How could high speed rail be added to the following airline hubs?

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From the Captain:

"Welcome aboard everyone, we are preparing for takeoff with all new funding from the federal government....

Ah....wait. Looks like we are seeing an Amber light from the Manchinometer, and the progressive compass. Ah...I am sorry folks, but it looks like our departure is on hold until those problems are fixed. Right now it looks like our next clearance isn't until October 31st folks. We are sorry for the delay"

- Mike's interpretation of the delayed Infrastructure Bill


The Air-Rail Race Is On!

In 2021, a massive shift in airline alliances took place. There had always been limited alliances between airlines and European Railway companies, such as Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn (German), or Air France and SNCF (France).

However, in August of this year that shift went into high speed.

Now it is not just the European airlines that sell interline tickets, but United sells tickets on Deutsch Bahn network, Delta on Thalys (Belgium/Netherlands) and SNCF (France), and American Airlines on Deutsche Bahn. We are not just talking one route here, we are talking about the WHOLE RAIL NETWORK!

When looked at from the Railways, Deutsche Bahn now has partnerships with 67 different airlines (and growing), and SNCF has 18 airlines (and growing). Even the Austrian Railways OBB, and Swiss Railways have solidified their air-rail alliances with a few airlines.

While no one has given a direct reason for the sudden push, it is likely due to “Flight Shaming” and the fact that France has acted already to prohibit short flights. However, it also rumored to be a defense play against low cost carriers, such as Easyjet or RyanAir. Either way, The airline industry has recognized that this policy is likely to grow, so they have gotten onboard and grown airline alliances.

Of course, air-rail alliances are nothing new in North America. Heck, the first cross county flights in the 1930s were a combination of flights during the day, and railroad trips at night. That tradition continued into the 1990s as Continental Airlines and Amtrak launched a code share relationship out of Newark. So the relationship is nothing new, but what is happening in Europe is monumental.

In the US:

Of course, where is Amtrak? Well, no where to be found. The relationship between United (who took over Continental) ended in 2021 due to rumored issues with payment for missed flights due to rail delays. So that leaves no US Air-Rail connections, but they are coming. Just not from Amtrak.

  • Brightline will likely be the first to have a interline agreement when they open the route to Orlando International Airport next year.

  • The Northeast Maglev is also planning on a station at Baltimore Airport.

  • Unfortunately, Texas Central will not go near the airports in Dallas or Houston so an air-rail alliance is not possible.

  • As for California’s high-speed rail – well no in-depth plans are in place. Then again, there are no flights between Bakersfield and Fresno today anyway.

Of course, there are the hyperloop companies. However, they are claiming to be faster than airplane; so it would be ironic if they would want to go to the airport for “slower” forms of travel. However, as recently as 2019 Elon Musk’s Boring Company was working on a project to Chicago O’Hare, and I wouldn’t be surprised if airports show up in other hyperloop feasibility studies.

However, once again the US is in the slow lane, but in Europe the Railflyer plan is happening today. The question is how long till that plan arrives here.


Brown Bag Recommendations from the High Speed Rail Alliance:

Over the past year, the High Speed Rail Alliance down in Chicago has been doing monthly "Brown Bag" series on some very interesting topics. Some of the top picks we recommend include:

All of the speakers are experts and a whose-who in high speed rail here in the states. So if you like the Derailed series, we highly recommend you check out these videos.

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