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  • Hanaa Siddiqi

The Pricier Path - Christmas Train Travel Costs Over Threefold That of Polluting Flights




As the festive season approaches, travellers face a significant problem: Should they choose the convenience of air travel or the eco-friendly option of train journeys? Greenpeace has raised concerns about the substantial price difference between these modes of transportation during the holidays and urges policymakers to make low-carbon travel more affordable.


In a groundbreaking analysis released today, Greenpeace reveals that opting for a plane over a train for your Christmas trip can result in significantly lower ticket prices despite the environmental implications. The study delved into 22 popular routes across the UK and Europe, consistently finding that train tickets were 3.4 times more expensive on average than their flight counterparts.


One striking example is the London to Prague route on December 21st, where a flight ticket costs a mere £15.30 compared to the hefty £267.80 for a train journey. Similarly, a trip from London to Barcelona could set you back 8.7 times more if you opt for the train over the plane.


Even on domestic routes where train journeys should be an attractive alternative, the analysis reveals that, on four out of seven available routes, the train ticket prices exceeded those of equivalent flights, with one train ticket costing 2.8 times more.

"Unless you own a herd of reindeer and a magical sleigh, the cheapest mode of transport this Christmas is likely to be a polluting flight," said Paul Morozzo, transport campaigner at Greenpeace UK. "But it doesn't have to be this way. A lack of investment in railways and ticketing, and a failure to properly tax carbon emissions, have created a nightmare before Christmas where consumers are effectively being rewarded for polluting."


It's worth noting that flights typically result in five times more carbon emissions than equivalent train journeys, making the cost-effectiveness of flights paradoxical. Moreover, direct rail links with London are available for only three out of 15 popular European destinations.


"For the sake of the climate, we need to get people out of planes and into trains," said Morozzo. "We need to level the playing field by bringing in a frequent flyer levy and by ending the unfair subsidies and tax exemptions enjoyed by the aviation sector. This needs to happen in parallel with an increase in capacity on our rail network to facilitate more demand."


Campaigners have long argued that the aviation industry enjoys favourable tax treatment compared to other forms of transport, making it imperative to level the playing field. Greenpeace and others stress the need for policies such as banning short-haul flights and introducing a frequent flier levy to promote greener travel choices.


While the aviation industry claims to be taking steps to reduce emissions through sustainable fuels and technological advancements, addressing the environmental impact of air travel remains paramount.


In conclusion, the holiday travel decision goes beyond cost considerations, encompassing environmental responsibilities and policy changes needed to steer us towards a more sustainable future.

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