The Environmental Benefits of Rail Travel

Environmental issues have taken centre stage in recent months, with the ever-growing threat of irreversible climate damage a cause for international concern. More and more citizens are lobbying Parliament to take action – something they are doing, especially following the agreements made at Glasgow’s COP26 in late 2021.

While governments and institutions are making ambitious plans to turn the UK net zero by 2050, there is also a push for individuals to make an effort in the name of capping global warming. Switching personal vehicles for public transport is one widely-endorsed move, with trains in particular regarded as a greener alternative to driving. But what exactly makes trains a better choice for travellers and commuters when it comes to ecological concerns?

Trains Emit Less CO2

Quite simply, travelling the UK by train results in fewer CO2 emissions than travelling by car. A traveller’s personal carbon footprint is smaller using public transport than it is using private transport or flight; according to recent data, domestic flights emit over six times more C02 per passenger than national rail travel, with Eurostar travel being around six times less emissive. Train travel is responsible for less C02 release than electric cars charged with mains electricity, making it a formidable green alternative.

Trains Use Less Energy

Not only is less CO2 produced per passenger when travelling by train, but trains also use far less overall energy than alternative forms of travel. Trains are well-streamlined and encounter minimal friction, making them incredibly efficient fuel burners. Meanwhile, domestic flight uses a considerable amount of fuel in take-off and landing. It is also true that trains are by and large going electric in Europe and around the world, meaning less reliance on fossil fuels and more efficient use of renewable energy sources.

Trains Emit Less Noise Pollution

Lastly, trains are much quieter than other forms of travel – broadly speaking. While this point may not have any direct relevance to the climate fight, there is a more specific ecological point to be made about the preservation of natural land. Flight paths create significant noise pollution, which can have a devastating effect on wildlife across a wide area.

Trains, meanwhile, affect localised patches of wildland, and have a much smaller footprint in terms of noise. This means that land around train tracks can continue to thrive, where flight paths can seriously interrupt migration patterns and mating seasons alike. The human element is also important to recognise, with noise-polluted cities raising stress-levels.

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David
David is a 28-year-old struggling artist who enjoys planking, upcycling and binge-watching boxed sets.