Sir - Mr "name held by request" (Flight International, 19-25 July, P37) says that I have ignored opposition to European high-speed trains (Flight International, 12-18 July, P38).

Environmental groups these days oppose almost any progress, be it a railway line or a new airport, because any journey undertaken by anyone involves some environmental damage. Even walking can damage the ground, and it uses energy and shoe rubber.

All that can be done is to opt for the least damaging, but reasonably practicable, transport solution and convince the environmentalists that is necessary and less damaging than the alternatives. Convincing them, is not that easy as Shell found out, with the Brent Spar oil rig. There are plenty of armchair environmentalists who have no idea of the real issues, but who will back a Greenpeace rubber boat without considering that the alternatives might be as bad, or worse. Railways are generally less damaging than aeroplanes and airports, particularly if one wants to reach a city centre.

It is true that the European Commission does not allow government subsidies to airlines, but have I not noticed a marked reluctance by some governments to obey the rules, eg France and Ireland? A few billion spent on Air France by the French Government is a level playing field when compared with a few billion on a railway line.


Alton, Hampshire, UK

Source: Flight International