plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

May 29, 2007

the train is better than the plane

Filed under: environment,ethics — plonkee @ 7:32 pm

Trains are commonly cited as better for the environment than planes. Recently Eurostar published figures that show that it has a tenth of the CO2 emissions of planes on the same London-Paris and London-Brussels routes.

I enjoy travelling and like to do a little to reduce my environmental footprint, so this year I am aiming to take the train rather than the plane where possible. Unfortunately, this conflicts with my desires for wealth as the train is generally more expensive than the plane.

This is particularly true for me, in terms of time and money, as I don’t live in the metropolis of London, and so to travel to Europe by train I have to first get to the capital and then take a Eurostar. This adds a few hours to my travel time, meaning that I don’t benefit from the city centre to city centre time savings of the train. Overall my journey from my front door to Paris or Brussels is probably around 6-7 hours. Whereas if I flew it would be around 4 hours max.

 The rise of the budget airlines make it difficult for the train to compete on price. I mean, if I’m going to Paris or Brussels then the cheapest all inclusive train is £83, which is not too dissimilar from a reasonable return flight, once taxes and fees have been taken into account. Yet if I want to travel further afield (and I do), taking the train is going to be considerably more expensive. The cheapest train to Frankfurt (inclusive) is approximately £131 (thank seat 61) , whereas the cheap trips (inclusive) with flights are around £83. And thats without even looking for the optimum dates.

I think that there are more important things than money, so I’ll still endeavour to take the train (partly because its enjoyable in itself). But I wish it was cheaper.

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