The Anonymous Widower

France Passes A Law That Prohibits Domestic Flights, For Trips That Can Be Made By Train In Less Than Two And A Half Hours

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Asapland.

I actually wonder, if this is something that is almost a complete ban on domestic flights except to islands like Corsica, as with the growth of the TGV network there can’t be many pairs of places in France, where the train takes more than two and a half hours.

I need to go to Pau at some time in the near future.

Pau is actually four and a half hours from Paris. Would most people take the train?

Other distances for comparison include.

  • Biarritz – 4 hours 11 minutes
  • Bordeaux – 2 hours 11 minutes
  • Marseilles – 3 hours 2 minutes
  • Nice – 6 hours
  • Strasbourg – 2 hours

It just shows how big France is.

By comparison in the UK, you can get to the following places in two and a half hours from London.

  • Preston from Euston
  • Hull from Kings Cross
  • Leeds from Kings Cross
  • Northallerton from Kings Cross
  • Exeter St. Davids from Paddington
  • Port Talbot Parkway from Paddington

Other roughly two and a half hour journeys would include.

  • Edinburgh and York
  • Glasgow and Preston
  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh

I would think, that the French have got the limit in their law about right.

Should We Have A Similar Law In The UK?

I have once taken a flight on a scheduled airline in the UK, shorter than London and Edinburgh. That was between London and Newcastle in the 1970s in a Dan-Air Comet 4.

In the last fifty years, four flights to Edinburgh and one to Aberdeen and Belfast, are probably all the domestic flying I’ve done in the UK.

I suspect, it is unlikely, that I will be affected if a similar law to France, were to be enacted in the UK.

There is also an interesting development in the provision of long distance rail services in the UK.

  • East Coast Trains are bringing in a fast, no-frills, one price service on the London and Edinburgh route.
  • Other companies are looking to do the same from London to Blackpool, Cardiff and Stirling.

I feel, that we’ll see some interesting services introduced by rail and ferry companies to compete with airlines.

London Euston And Dublin By Low Carbon Boat Train

Currently, you can get to Dublin from London by train to Holyhead and then a ferry.

  • The non-stop train between London Euston and Holyhead takes just over three and a half hours.
  • Avanti West Coast will be replacing their trains with new faster Class 805 bi-mode trains, which in a few years could be capable of running at up to 140 mph between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Irish Ferries have a fast ferry that goes between Holyhead and Dublin in one hour and forty-nine minutes.

I can see a fast train and ferry service between London Euston and Dublin getting very close to five hours.


I feel that, it could be quite likely that new technology, faster trains and targeted marketing will reduce the number of internal flights in the UK.

The same forces will probably do the same in several countries, including France.

So do we really need a law?

April 14, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. I used to fly Air France / Inter MAN CDG ORY NTE fairly regularly. It was a bit slow, with a nightmare connecting coach ride around the Boulevard Periphique, but at least if you had a through ticket and the connection missed you would get on the next flight free.

    One weekend on the recommendation of French colleagues, who claimed the TGV was never late, I tried it on the TGV and BA. The train was 15 minutes late departing, 15 minutes late arriving, the ticket did not include connections on the Metro and RER and not only did you have to obtain tickets, but even to rebook between them. On arrival at CDG the check in desk said I was late and the flight was closed, although I eventually managed to wangle passage via LHR overnight. On the way back the RER ticket machines at CDG were all broken and there was a huge queue at the ticket office. I approached a grippeur (French gripper) and asked how much the fine for no ticket was. He relented and just wrote me out a ticket, otherwise I would have missed the TGV, lost my reservation and some fees through late attendance on customer site. Total fiasco both ways – I did not try this again!

    Sounds great on paper, but likely to be chaos in reality!

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | April 14, 2021 | Reply

  2. This decision could have affects on journeys from say Paris to London which is a relatively short journey and decision on whether Eurostar has to survive to maintain a link especially post Brexit where customs and immigration controls are far more complex than when the U.K. while not part of Schengen was part of the EU .

    While there is a possibility of international airlines switching from London to Paris for trans continental journeys meaning U.K. citizens may have to travel to Paris for long distance services!

    This decision for France is not surprising given how successful the TGV network has been in transforming passengers from air to rail with the benefits of city to city journeys that rail provides .

    Comment by Melvyn | April 14, 2021 | Reply

  3. Such a law will require a train booking service that allows booking of all fares including discounted more than one year prior, same as airlines.

    And intermodal through ticket booking with guaranteed connections (ticket acceptance if late/disrupted) for rail/air connections (on air systems)–already possible to a limited extent (some train stations are represented as airport codes on sabre, gallieo etc).

    Comment by MilesT | April 16, 2021 | Reply

    • We may see that, but I think tickering will go contactless as in London. It would be ideal for High Speed Two and would encourage turn-up-and-go.

      Computers and their programming, are always capable of charging people the minimum.

      We certainly have more rights as passengers in the UK, than say the Germans do!

      From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train

      I never got a refund and had to buy a new ticket.

      Comment by AnonW | April 16, 2021 | Reply

  4. […] wrote France Passes A Law That Prohibits Domestic Flights, For Trips That Can Be Made By Train In Less Tha… when France passed the […]

    Pingback by France Bans Short-Haul Flights To Cut Carbon Emissions « The Anonymous Widower | May 23, 2023 | Reply

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