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Rail travel on UK’s top business routes almost nine times greener than driving



Travelling by train on the UK’s top 100 business routes is almost nine times ‘greener’ than travelling by car, according to a new report from the Rail Delivery Group.

The membership organisation which works on behalf of the rail industry goes further, claiming that some journeys by rail will produce almost 20 times fewer carbon emissions than a car journey, including trips between Edinburgh Haymarket and London King’s Cross which emit 6 kgCO2e emissions per rail passenger compared to 119.08 kgCO2e when travelling by car.

Elsewhere, journeys between London King’s Cross and York are more than 15 times greener by rail than by car, according to the research, with rail journeys from London to Newcastle and to Leeds respectively 13.5 and 13.3 times greener.

The average emissions per passenger journey across the top 100 business routes are 4.26 kgCO2e by rail, 36.82 kgCO2e by petrol/diesel car, 10.09 kgCO2e by electric car, and 17.91 kgCO2e by plug-in hybrid car.

The research is the latest phase of RDG’s Green Travel Pledge which aims to encourage businesses to accelerate their modal shift from car and air journeys to rail wherever possible.

Its latest research is its most granular to date and considers engine type, fuel type, journey distance, occupancy and carriage layout. The data was developed in partnership with Thrust Carbon, 3Squared, Black Box Partnerships and the wider rail industry.

The project also found that trips by train are also four times greener than using
a plug-in hybrid electric car and two and a half times greener than
a fully electric car.

The new data for the top 100 routes is available from today to global and
domestic travel management companies and online booking tools via RDG’s Rail Data Marketplance. RDG aims to release carbon emissions data for all point-to-point rail travel across the UK later this year.

Jacqueline Starr, CEO at Rail Delivery Group, said: “We know that businesses need accurate and reliable carbon emission data they can trust. From today, businesses will be able to see the most accurate measure of rail business travel emissions available for the 100 most popular business journeys. This will allow travellers to make greener travel choices by providing reliable carbon data when they book their next train ticket.”

Clive Wratten, CEO at the Business Travel Association, said: “This initiative from RDG on behalf of the whole rail industry has the potential to provide clarity and a robust green message to all parts of business travel.”

The table below shows the average emissions (kgCO2e) per passenger per transport type on selected UK business routes. Calculations were based on single-occupancy car journeys and average load factors for rail journeys.

Table showing average emissions (KGCO2e) per transport type on selected UK business routes
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