Take the Train, Not The Plane.


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Note: This is a guest post from Plonkee at Plonkee Money, a regular reader of The Good Human.

One of the biggest contributors to excessive greenhouse house gas emissions is transport, in addition to the vast quantities pumped out by cars, the aviation sector also relies on crude oil to power it’s way around the world. Perhaps you feel that there isn’t a real alternative to air travel. I’d suggest that in many cases, rail can be not only a good alternative from an environmental point of view, but also a better alternative from both a cost saving and time saving point of view.

In areas where there are good rail networks, such as Europe, the north eastern corridor of the US and Japan, if you compare city to city journeys where the flight is around an hour long, it is usually quicker to take the train, examples of such journeys include the London – Paris – Brussels triangle and Philadelphia – New York.

If you book in advance, fares are also comparable to air travel for many routes. London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord costs from £59 return by Eurostar. In comparison, a typical flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle is around £100 with BA or Air France and that doesn’t include the cost of getting from the city centre to the airport.

If you don’t think that the train would be suitable for your normal needs, perhaps because you live somewhere with an infrequent service, have you considered taking the train instead of the plane for your vacation? On the train, the journey can become as much a part of the trip as the destination. Indeed some of the greatest things to do before you die are rail trips, including the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth in New Zealand and the Copper Canyon Railway between Chihuahua and Los Mochis in Mexico.

If you are interested in undertaking a long-distance train trip, then a great resource is the man in seat 61. Despite being a UK based website, it covers rail travel on every continent with a railway. The practical information on getting from London to almost anywhere overland (including London to Los Angeles and the mammoth London to Singapore) lends itself to undertaking shorter trips from almost any destination. It includes details on the best (and cheapest) ways to buy tickets and tips and information from recent travelers.

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  1. This is true. It only takes 4 hours to get to Amsterdam by train now, too!

    The strange thing is, whilst Europe is getting closer to the UK, UK is getting further away from the UK.

    Internal train timea are getting longer. That’s the next challenge. Unless you a big believer in downshifting that is!

  2. There’s no doubt that the Eurorail spews out fewer carbon atoms, but it’s not cheaper. Booking a month in advance Eurorail costs some 155 pounds, whilst BA or Air France cost about 70 pounds from London to Paris.

  3. Is it realistic to travel by train in the US? I have two kids. We would like to travel from Colorado to Illinois. The ticket price is the same as for air travel. We would leave just before bedtime and arrive the next day (or so) at 2am. We wouldn’t be able to see any of the country, I’d have two exhausted kids, and sleeping next to strangers with my kids would have me on edge.

    If we were to bump up to a sleeper car, we’d be several hundred dollars more than the airlines even with carbon offsets. My young daughter could easily sleep next to me or her older brother but Amtrak forces us to purchase the “family sleeper” because we have three people.

    I’m hopeful that train travel will become better for us in the near future. I do keep a close eye on it.

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