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Swedes turn to trains amid climate ‘flight shame’ – Opportunities for eco-friendly coach holiday tourism?

Sweden – with schoolgirl climate activist Greta Thunberg and ‘Fridays for Future’ – is taking a lead in mobilising young people and politicians globally to take action on urgent climate concerns. According to a recently published article in The Guardian, the number of Swedes taking trains for domestic journeys has risen as airplane journeys inside the country have fallen, reflecting growing public concern about the climate crisis.

A survey published end-May 2019 by Swedish Railways (SJ) found that 37 % of respondents chose to travel by rail instead of air, compared with 26 % last autumn and 20 % in early 2018. SJ said the shift was very much evident in its passenger numbers: the total number of journeys on its network rising by 5 % last year to 31.8 million, and by a further 8 % in the first quarter of this year, with business trips surging 1 %.

“Flygskam” or flight shame – the feeling of being ashamed to fly because of the harmful environmental impact – has become a social media buzzword along with the hashtag #jagstannarpåmarken, which translates as #stayontheground. This trend is also apparent in figures released by Swedavia, which operates Sweden’s 10 busiest airports: domestic passenger numbers fell by 8 % from January to April 2019, following a 3 % fall in the whole of 2018. For the first time, climate impact heads up Swedish travellers’ reasons for choosing rail.

According to SJ, a single flight between Sweden’s two biggest cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg, generates as much CO2 as 40,000 train journeys – a fact that has plainly struck an emotional chord with Swedes, previously a nation of frequent flyers. But while Swedish tour operators are starting to offer inclusive trips abroad by train, local experts say it may take some time for climate concerns to influence most Swedes’ foreign and holiday travel plans.

As the facts of climate change become ever clearer, many people are opting for coach holiday travel not only because it is relatively cheap and sociable but also because it is environmentally friendly. While research has established that environmental concerns have not been high on traditional coach holidaymakers’ list of priorities, they could, however, become quickly so as a new generation of potential coach holidaymakers emerges.

Coach travel comes out as the most carbon efficient mode of travel when compared to air or rail. All things being equal, modern state-of-the-art coach transport is as green as it gets – other than cycling or hiking. The RDA has being promoting this message for over a decade. Coach holiday travel can help reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible by offering customers new and environmentally friendly forms of transport along with immersive eco-friendly “Living Culture” and memorable culinary experiences.

This is a message which EACT Member, The Swedish National Coach Organisation, is actively promoting. Chairman of the Board, Kjell Peterson, believes that it obviously presents not only Swedish coach tourism operators great opportunities but also the European coach tourism sector as a whole.

Further information:


Christina Gehlen
Tel.: +49 (0)221 912772-19
Fax: +49 (0)221 912772-27

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