Rail travel in Europe grows by a third

The head of Eurostar, the high-speed rail service linking London to Paris and Brussels, said Friday that climate change worries helped make 2007 a banner year and urged the EU to rein in the "unsustainable" growth of airline carbon emissions.

"We see a 30 percent growth in the number of business travelers on the Eurostar in the last two years," Richard Brown, Eurostar’s chief executive, told a climate change conference of European business leaders.

"A significant part of that growth comes from companies wishing to switch to greener modes of transport," added Brown.

He predicted Europe’s 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) of high-speed track will double in size by 2018 under pressure of climate change concerns.

In 2007, Eurostar carried a record 8.26 million travelers, up 5.1 percent with sales of business tickets surging because of concerns of companies about the carbon footprint of their traveling employees.

Brown urged the European Union to rein in emissions of airlines.

"Aviation emissions have risen 90 percent in the last 14 years and are projected to double again over the next 10 to 15 years," said Brown. "That is not sustainable growth."

Europe’s aviation sector objects to a plan that would force airlines into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme buying and selling credits to offset the environmental damage they cause.

"We believe it is essential that (road and air transport) is included" in the cap-and-trade program. "I don’t see quite enough urgency or priority being given to carbon impact" by the EU, added Brown.

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