Planes, trains or automobiles?

August 4, 2021
Planes, trains or automobiles?

A new study has revealed that travelling by train in the UK costs 50% more than air travel, despite the same journey on a train emitting 80% less carbon dioxide.

This creates a dilemma for many UK travelers. Do they pay more for a greener footprint or should they reduce prices to match air fares which cost half of the journey by train.

None of this seems to be statistically fanciful either. If you wanted to fly from say London to Edinburgh, and stay one night, you’d pay £125 return from Gatwick. A train from King’s Cross to Waverley would cost £243 for an overnight return.

That’s some difference.

But it’s not exactly a straight comparison.

A train may cost more and take longer but you would have to factor in the cost of travel and parking at Gatwick and travel from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre, which is 9 miles. Waverley, of course, sits in the heart of Edinburgh too.

We dont want to labour this, of course, but that 50% difference may quickly become equal when these things are costed in.

A car journey from London to Edinburgh is a 800 mile plus round trip and would probably cost about £160 in fuel. Then there’s parking, the double travel time and fatigue that comes with a 7 hour drive each way (flying takes one hour, and the train 4 and half hours).

You can see where this is heading?

Headline figures like it is 50% more expensive to travel by train than plane don’t stand up to much scrutiny. It may seem so superficially, but it’s not.

We are biased at Raildiary, being a SaaS for the rail industry, but train travel makes definite financial and environmental sense over flying. You can catch a train every 30 minutes from King’s Cross. You don’t have the palaver of a 2 hour check in and exorbitant airport parking charges.

You can look out of windows too at the delights of York, Newcastle and Berwick Upon Tweed, as well as savouring the architectural delights of Waverley on arrival.

From a plane you’ll see clouds probably!

“The train is a small world moving through a larger world.”

-Elisha Cooper, ‘Train’ (2013).

Obviously, if you’re planning a long haul trip to Moscow or Budapest, you’re unlikely to choose train (or car) travel.

But apart from time, we love the freedom that train travel brings:

  • No two hour check ins
  • No confiscation of food and drink
  • Full WiFi or network coverage
  • More leg room
  • You can take as much baggage as you want
  • Pets and bikes are both welcomed
  • Railway stations are often centrally located, whereas airports are not

If you were asked to travel solo on business from London to Edinburgh, what would you choose? Plane, train or automobile?

Agatha Christie knows which to take:

“Trains are wonderful.... To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches, and rivers, in fact, to see life.”

Oliver Donohue

Snr Account Manager

Snr Account Manager

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