By Louisa Mathies, Green Guide and MSc student in climate change
It is 25 degrees in Sønderjylland and the smell of Elderflower is ripe, telling us that summer has arrived. On the train down South from Copenhagen a few days ago, the amount of people on the train was another reminder of the start of the holiday season.
This summer, the Danish rail provider DSB is bringing back their successful 8-day travel pass to encourage local holidays. In Germany, Deutsche Bahn are doing the same with a 9€ travel pass valid for an entire month in either June, July or August. DSB has introduced mandatory seat reservations for direct trains to Hamburg because of expected peak capacity, while Deutsche Bahn are also anticipating increased demand, especially around popular tourist destinations. What can we take from this?
Two contradictory trends
The taste for trains and slower, more sustainable travel seems to be on the rise. It can seem counterintuitive then, that the Danish Government only last year gave support to expand Copenhagen Airport to almost its double capacity – notably tucked in-between policy proposals to ‘green cities’ in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Plan 2035, presented only a few months earlier, promises 64 billion Danish kroner to expand Denmark’s road infrastructure for car transportation (see here for an earlier blog post about the Infrastructure Plan J). In a country that already has one of the most tightly packed road networks and where many groups are resisting highway expansions across the country, the continued investment in fossil infrastructure can seem puzzling.
Revisiting some lessons from Covid
With the summer ahead of us in Europe and travel bugs less constrained by Covid restrictions, it is helpful to remind ourselves of some of the more positive lessons Covid taught us. That rapid transportation from A-B isn’t always necessary, that we can learn to value our local landscapes just as much, if not more, than faraway destinations and that turning down the pace in our day-to-day lives can be beneficial in many ways. Walking, biking or taking public transport as a way to explore both near and far can be a more mindful and certainly more environmentally friendly way to travel. And travel passes such as those by DSB or Deutsche Bahn can help make slower travel more affordable. But there is still a long way to go politically in supporting this type of mobility for all, as train tickets are unable to compete with the largely tax-free aviation industry and investments in the European train infrastructure network are much needed. Social movements and networks such as Stay Grounded are pushing for this change and there are many ways in which people can get involved in support.
Slower tourism with Green Bike Tours
Green Bike Tours itself supports a slower form of tourism and learning about more environmentally friendly and healthy modes of transportation in cities. If you would like to learn more about biking as a slower, healthier and more environmentally friendly form of transport, you can join us for a public or private tour and we look forward to showing you around!