Opposedly to public misconception, most of the energy is wasted not because of acceleration but because of resistance. And, despite the airplanes are extremely airflow-shaped, the laws of physics say that environment resistance grows as square low with speed, resistance ~ v^2. So, at very high speeds, resistance is pretty high anyway. Furthermore, once head penetrates the air in front of the vehicle, the long tail experiences no resistance. So, in my opinion, very long trains transport thousands of people for free, without spending additional energy. In total, they must waste 100 times less energy than airplane. Nevertheless, when I look at the prices, I start to see the opposite. E.g. Berlin-Geneva train costs at least 250 euros, the flight tickets start at less than 100. So, the market economy accounts the trains as resource wasters. Why?
closed as off topic by Karlson, mindcorrosive, Kate Gregory, choster, Stuart Feb 27 '13 at 16:18
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Your question has more is place on stack exchange economy when it will exist. (And it starts with armchair physics.)
Still an interesting question.
I already asked myself this question, here are some thoughts:
Travel time is employee's time who need to be paid
The plane Berlin - Genova takes 1 h 45, the train 10 h.
During the flight, you are only taking 1 h 45 x the number of crew members.
During the train, you use 10 h x the number of crew members, maybe including night fees.
Plus, for the train you need a big rail infrastructure that is expensive to build and to maintain.
For the plane you need air, which is still free. (Maybe you pay somewhere the persons who designed air routes.)
For the railway you need to pay train stations and junctions, for the plane you need to pay airport fees.
For the train if the way is inter-countries, you need to split the bill between two or more companies, for the plane it's only the air company.
The only international long distance train i took was almost empty, maybe if there were full there could be cheap tickets (and/or vice-versa).
All of the few planes i took were always pretty full.