036: Take the train!

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ VARIES

When we travel, we all need to think more about the carbon footprint of the method we choose, whether travelling to the local shops or internationally. For this action, we’d like you to think about using the train.

Things will vary from trip to trip of course depending on the how many of you are travelling, timings and distances. However, as a generalisation, going by rail is the most environmentally way to travel with the exceptions of walking and cycling. It results in less carbon dioxide production (the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming) than using a motor vehicle, aircraft or ship. This is when we calculate the carbon footprint of travel in terms of the average carbon emissions per passenger-mile.

So if you are planning, for example, a family holiday across Europe, a business trip to Scotland from London, a drive to see your family in another State, or a commute, have a look at train timetables and fares. We know it won’t work every time, but it will sometimes!

The carbon dioxide savings

As an example, a long distance train trip across Europe will generate 66-75% less carbon dioxide than travelling by petrol or diesel car or by air. Similar savings will be made travelling State to State in the US, or across Australia.

Even given that airlines are using more fuel-efficient aircraft, and flying them more economically than ever, the savings are still massive.

Carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming and it is essential that we reduce the emissions from transport if we are to limit temperature rises to manageable levels. Climate change is already having a significant impact and we are running out of time and headroom on CO2 levels to halt and reverse things.

Other advantages

Using a train instead of driving or flying can have other advantages too, as well as reducing your carbon footprint:

  • trains can be cheaper than airlines, and even cheaper than driving for single-person journeys
  • trains create less noise pollution than both roads and aircraft
  • trains produce less air pollution, for example nitrates, carbon monoxide and particulates
  • travelling by rail is less stressful than driving
  • railway stations are less stressful and take much less check-in or through time than airports
  • railways use much less land than roads and airports
  • you can walk the length of a train, have a meal, have a drink, work or relax whilst travelling
  • you’ll see a lot more of the country you are travelling through
  • you don’t need to make a separate trip to the airport
  • services are generally more frequent and time-convenient than air

As a very old UK advert for British Rail used to say … let the train take the strain!

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top