Should You Travel by Train or Plane?

By: Raf Fabisz

Posted on

London Underground Train

Photo author: Tomas Anton Escobar

Travelling by train costs ‘50% more’ than flying, and prices could be holding back greener travel. Air travel may be cheaper than going by train, but with planes emitting six time more carbon, how should we be travelling?

The UK is home to some of the world's most congested cities. With many people taking flights or trains for long-distance trips each year, it is important to consider the impact of transport on global warming and climate change.

Airlines account for 11% of global CO² emissions, and trains account for just 0.25%. Despite this difference in percentage, rail travel has been found to cost ‘50% more’ than flying as the price increases with distance travelled. One way we can combat these high prices is by buying a 'Railcard' which will give you a third off on most of the UK's train services. This is an efficient way to save cash and reduce carbon emissions by not having to fly so often, or even at all!

"It’s important that we recognise the importance of rail travel for families as well as freight," says Lois Vallely from Moneymarketing

If we make these changes in transport methods, there would be a decrease of around 900 million tonnes of CO² equivalent per year – more than half of all global aviation emissions. Air travel may be cheaper than going by train; but with planes emitting six times more carbon (per passenger kilometre) how should we be travelling?

The UK public transportation system, which includes rail and bus travel as well as cycling and walking, has the potential to reduce emissions by ‘at least 75%’.

Train travel is even more popular in mainland Europe, where the railway network offers travellers a wider choice of destinations and better connections. There are currently 2,000km of high-speed rail lines in operation across France for example. That’s compared to 11,560 km of motorways - which also emits significantly greater amounts of CO₂ per passenger kilometre than trains do."

"There is no guarantee that any future governments will maintain this level or support these investments." The Guardian reports on research by Friends of the Earth Scotland's senior transport campaigner Richard Dixon who estimates that £14 billion needs to be spent annually between now and 2050 if we want to meet our climate targets."

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