Substitution from Air to High-Speed Rail: The Case of Amsterdam Airport

Eric Kroes*, Fons Savelberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper we present the results of a study that aims to establish the potential for high-speed train travel as a substitute for short distance air travel at Amsterdam Airport. We investigated the 13 most important destinations that offer direct flights to and from Amsterdam Airport. Almost 40% of the air passengers travelling to/from these destinations are transfer passengers. Empirical evidence reveals that high-speed trains dominate the market for journeys of 2 hours or less, such as between Paris and Brussels. However, trains claim only a tiny market share of journeys longer than 5 to 6 hours; air travel dominates that market segment. Using these findings, we developed a model to estimate the substitution of air travel with high-speed train travel. The explanatory variables in this model are travel time, daily departure options, fares, and the inconvenience associated with transferring at airports. In a “minimum” scenario, we predict that in 2030 high-speed trains could replace approximately 1.9 million air journeys. This calculation is based on feasible reductions of train travel times and increased train frequencies for part of the rail network. In this scenario, Amsterdam–London accounts for more than three-quarters of the predicted substitution. In a “maximum” scenario, substitution could increase up to 3.7 million air journeys per year, provided that inconveniences for passengers when transferring at airports from plane to train are resolved and train ticket fares are reduced by 20%. These two scenarios imply a reduction of 2.5 to 5% of all flights to/from Amsterdam Airport in 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-174
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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