Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Greenpeace holds anti-expansion action at El Prat Airport

Greenpeace is demanding that European governments invest in an accessible railway system for all. The campaign got off to a 'flying' start with anti-expansion action at El Prat Airport. (Photo: Pablo Blázquez/Greenpeace)

More Trains, Less Planes, Mobility for All

We urgently need European governments to invest in a geographically robust and accessible railway system for everyone everywhere, not just those routes with the highest demand.

Sylvia Arthur

Earlier this month, activists from Greenpeace Spain installed a 12-meter long train model in the Barcelona-El Prat Airport to protest the impact of the airline sector and the planned expansion of the airport.

The expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport would cause tremendous damage to precious wetlands and cost 1.7 million euros. Businesses and representatives promoting this project would like people to believe that opposing the expansion will hurt the city and its inhabitants. It is not true. No city can prosper based exclusively on a "low cost" tourism model that negatively impacts the population with more expensive rents while devouring public resources.

This train model was designed to highlight the shocking lack of rail connectivity among European countries and across the continent. It will travel across Europe in the coming months.

Why it matters

With the arrival of summer in Europe, the easing of restrictions means a return to travel throughout the continent. However, of the people who are lucky enough to be able to travel, many folks have no choice but to resort to the car or plane for their vacations due to the lack of trains. We urgently need European governments to invest in a geographically robust and accessible railway system for everyone everywhere, not just those routes with the highest demand.

In Eastern and Northern Europe, for example, distances are big and alternatives still need to be designed and delivered. If Europe truly wants to be united, train travel time between places like Bucharest (Romania) and Sofia (Bulgaria), the capitals of the two largest countries in Eastern Europe, should be five hours, not 11 hours with multiple transfers.

Investing in trains is a key to fighting the climate emergency while connecting Europeans and other travelers with their cities and countries in a sustainable way. But diminishing connections has forced people to use more polluting means of transport.

Greenpeace Spain protested the planned expansion of the airport

Earlier this month, activists from Greenpeace Spain protested the planned expansion of the airport. (Photo: Pablo Blázquez/Greenpeace)

What needs to happen

The European Commission has declared 2021 the "European Year of Rail," highlighting the essential role of the train in fighting the climate crisis. Traveling by plane pollutes up to 20 times more than traveling by train. Greenpeace demands that E.U. institutions and national governments be consistent with their climate objectives and promote a system whereby the train—already climate-friendly, safe—is an affordable alternative to short-haul flights and the car.

With that in mind, Greenpeace Spain produced a video to encourage citizens to sign a petition addressed to European Transport Ministers with five proposals that would allow us to travel better in the future:

  • Create at least 30 new day and night connections between European countries by 2025.
  • Improve the compatibility of trains between countries so that journeys between different European territories are possible.
  • Make the train easier and more affordable by eliminating subsidies to airlines, e.g. introducing a kerosene tax. End short-haul flights when there is a competitive train alternative in terms of time and price.
  • Ensure train operators have compatible sales systems so that buying a train ticket is as easy as buying a plane ticket.
  • Facilitate access to trains for all people, including those who travel with their bicycle or pet.

Mobility For All is working in collaboration with allies to promote the benefits of alternative mobility for improved city life for all city dwellers, whatever their background or socioeconomic status.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Sylvia Arthur

Sylvia Arthur

Sylvia Arthur is communications lead with Greenpeace's Mobility For All campaign and lives in London and Accra.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo