From sky to rail: KLM pioneers train-ticket scheme for Netherlands-Belgium travel

KLM, the Netherlands' flag carrier, is shifting gears from sky to rail by providing train tickets for its clientele journeying from Amsterdam to Brussels, according to Politico.

KLM's CEO Marjan Rintel shared with Politico, "We are transitioning our customers from air travel to rail transport."

The travel duration between these European capitals spans 45 minutes via air and approximately 1 hour and 38 minutes by Thalys, the high-speed train service. The distance covered, around 108 miles, is roughly equivalent to a trip from Los Angeles to San Diego, or from Wall Street to the furthest point of Long Island.

A prominent factor propelling KLM's initiative is the escalating pressure on the aviation sector to diminish its carbon emissions, following the airline's launch of a "Fly Responsibly" campaign in 2019.

Yet, challenges have also been cropping up at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, KLM's primary hub. The Dutch government recently secured a court victory against KLM, compelling the reduction of the airport's annual flight numbers from 500,000 to 440,000, as reported by AeroTime.

KLM initially tested the waters with this train-ticket scheme last summer, replacing one of its four daily flights from Amsterdam to Brussels with rail service.

The airline then took a step further in February, announcing the procurement of tickets on an additional four Thalys trains for passengers commuting between the two airports.

A spokesperson from KLM revealed to Insider that the airline has since bought tickets for eight trains, split evenly between both directions. The spokesperson affirmed, "We have procured maximum capacity on trains that align with the arrival and departure schedules of the flights."

Despite the encouraging start, the pilot project highlighted a need for streamlining passenger transfers, bolstering luggage assistance, and enhancing communication with customers who may be unfamiliar with Thalys.

The airline emphasized in a press release that these hurdles need to be surmounted before flights to and from Brussels can be permanently swapped with rail services. The statement continued, "To realize this, KLM would require the cooperation of all Action Plan partners. After all, the airline has no jurisdiction over the trains, the railway platforms or the airport."