Take a train to travel green

Following up from our previous post around ways to make your travel sustainable within a budget, our latest blog post takes a look at travel by trains. In fact over the last weekend, we attended a very popular event hosted by Tågsemester.nu, a growing Swedish portal for train travel holidays.

green travel in Sweden with train


Emissions comparisson

A look at the table below pegging train travel against air travel shows the obvious advantage of the former when it comes to sustainable travel. For example, a train trip between Zurich, Switzerland and Milan, Italy, is nearly 30 times efficient vis-a-vis an air trip when it comes to CO2 emissions.  

Plane vs. train: Carbon dioxide emissionsTime comparison

Naysayers may step in here saying “Well, but I save a whole load of hours when it comes to train travel”. A typical train trip between Zurich and Milan is around 3 hours and 41 minutes. A flight between the two destinations is 55 minutes. That is quite a difference.

But. Add in the pre-departure airport arrival time requirements, time in the post arrival baggage collection and other formalities, the typical location of airports from the city centers. This time difference may narrow down a bit. Definitely, worth the environment!

Which means of transport is most energy efficient? Cars, aviation, buses, 2/3 wheels, rail/train

Chart data source: International Energy Agency
TOE (tonne of oil equivalent), a unit of measure to indicate the amount of energy released in burning one metric ton of crude oil. Lower energy consumption leads to lower greenhouse emissions.

And with High Speed Rail (HSR) coming in, new train lines having speeds in excess of 250 kilometers per hour (km/h), or 160 miles per hour (mph). China, leading the way here, has 26,869 kms of HSR in place (Beijing-Shanghai HSR pictured below). The US with only 54 kms in place has 1710 approved for construction. And this is a growing phenomenon across the world.

High Speed train in China

And then there’s the advantage of,

Comfort – Generally a lot more comfortable than the economy class on flights

Convenience – Step out and you may well walk out in the busiest street of the city. Infact most city centers lie around the central stations

Scenic – The view from the window’s a lot more colorful than from the air

Train in the mountain

Cheaper – Typically may end up costing a lot lesser

Ofcourse, there’s no denying that you can’t really avoid air travel completely. It still has a whole load of advantages depending on the purpose of your travel. Yet, if it’s slow travel that you seek, with a focus on the eco-footprint that you leave behind, try accommodating a rail journey whereever possible on your next trip. 

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