Ask anyone if they’d like to lead a green lifestyle and the overwhelming majority would say yes. Asked if they could afford it, and you may get a few doubters. It’s a persuasive argument, and has often been used by motorists reluctant to switch to rail travel.
But new figures show that the continued rise in petrol prices is making rail travel much more competitive with motoring, leading to a sharp increase in rail passengers.
More than a billion rail journeys a year
“It’s been a strong quarter on the railways, with more and more people choosing to travel by train, despite tough economic times and tight family budgets for many,” said Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
“Passenger numbers continue to rise to levels not witnessed in peacetime Britain since the 1920s, with well over a billion journeys made every year.”
Rail passengers increase by 5% in three months
Figures from ATOC showed that:
• rail passenger numbers grew by nearly 5% in the first three months of 2011
• growth over the financial year 2010/11 was 6.6%
• 1.34bn rail journeys were made during financial year 2010/11
• rail fares rose by an average of 6.2% in January, but petrol prices rose at twice this rate, costing 13% more in April 2011 than April 2010
Petrol price rises mean people are switching to trains
“The sharp rise in petrol prices will have encouraged many people to look for other ways to get from A to B rather than simply reaching for the car keys,” added Roberts.
It’s estimated that a 5% rise in petrol prices leads to a 1% rise in rail journeys. The ATOC research indeed shows that 1 in 6 rail users switched from car to train for at least one journey during February and March 2011. Of these, about half said it was because of high petrol prices.
Regional rail journeys the biggest winners
The biggest increases were seen in regional rail trips, as these medium-distance journeys are most likely to be cheaper than travelling by car. Flexible pricing options also mean that many short and long distance rail journeys also come in cheaper, especially when you factor in all the costs of running a car, like insurance, tax and parking.
Many consumers are also finding rail travel to Europe is also competitive with other forms of transport, and even as fast as air travel on short European trips. Which all goes to prove you can be green and save money.