Make rail the hero to inspire sustainable travel in the UK, new report from Trainline finds

2 min read

Making rail travel inspirational, creating the notion of “train bragging,” and highlighting key routes where train travel can be faster or cheaper than cars or planes would support travelers to be more sustainable, according to a new report commissioned by Trainline as part of the cross-industry “I Came By Train” movement.

Analysis by Trainline of 250,000 different popular UK journeys shows that train offers the fastest and/or cheapest mode of travel compared with driving or flying in most cases if travelers are encouraged to make cost-saving decisions.

This Reasonable by Rail research reveals that 75% of journeys are cheaper or faster if travelers book in advance to secure the cheapest available price for the journey, and that 64% of trips would be cheaper or faster if a Railcard discount is applied to the average price paid for the journey.

“Hero” routes which should be championed to encourage modal shift include London to Manchester, which is over an hour quicker by train than flying and £15 cheaper on average with a railcard, and Manchester to Glasgow, which is an hour quicker than driving and £10 cheaper on average – or £24 with a railcard discount.

The whitepaper was compiled through the contributions of 16 experts from across the travel and transport industry.

Other suggested ideas in the whitepaper include developing inspirational cross-industry messaging that emphasizes how switching a journey to rail reduces a traveler’s carbon footprint; collaborating with the tech sector to give rail options more prominence in travel apps because they make journeys more sustainable; and considering incentives to support sustainable travel such as a “Green Railcard” that rewards frequent use.

“Sustainability can be rail’s secret weapon for creating growth, but to inspire travelers to choose rail, we must appeal to both their hearts and their heads,” said Trainline CEO Jody Ford. “Creating a mass movement from car and air to rail should be a national mission, and that mission will succeed best through a coalition of activity that harnesses our collective power, skill, and innovation.

“I Came By Train is such an important initiative, at a critical time,” added Community Rail Network CEO Jools Townsend. “As the climate crisis becomes more pressing, and with many communities and households facing day-to-day challenges now, we need to ensure everyone can benefit from sustainable, inclusive transport, reducing traffic, and enabling far more journeys to be made by public transport. I’m proud to be part of a campaign raising awareness of how rail – combined with buses, community transport, walking, wheeling, and cycling – is a major part of the solution to the environmental and socio-economic crises we face, central to a greener, better future.”

The whitepaper is the latest element in the “I Came By Train” campaign, which started in October last year with the commission of ‘Better Days (I came by train)’, a new song and accompanying video by British singer-songwriter Craig David to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of rail.