What makes train travel so eco-friendly? Age of the green train

Train travel is not only greener than alternative forms of transport, with flight delays, traffic jams and the rising cost of petrol, it’s becoming a more and more attractive option. Read on to find out about green trains and rail travel’s eco credentials.

It’s full steam ahead for green train travel

• rail is responsible for less than 1 per cent of the UK’s total CO2 emissions
• rail creates around half the CO2 emissions per passenger per mile than cars
• rail creates around a quarter the CO2 emissions per passenger per mile than domestic air travel
• train emissions have reduced by around 25 per cent in the last 10 years
• planned electrification, use of cleaner fuels and other energy-saving measures aim to cut rail CO2 emissions by 50 per cent in the long-run

Trains far greener than cars or domestic flights

Rail is one of the most carbon friendly forms of travel around. On average, CO2 emissions are about half per passenger per mile than with cars, and a quarter of what you get from planes. New technological advances also mean that train emissions have reduced by approximately 25 per cent in the past 10 years.

It’s true that cars have become cleaner over recent years, too, but only by about 9 per cent. Quite simply, rail travel is becoming greener, faster. There’s also capacity for trains to take extra passengers for a minimal environmental cost.

And when you compare rail travel to domestic plane travel, there’s no contest, as local air journeys have actually increased their carbon impact by more than 10 per cent in the last decade.

Switching to electric trains for an even greener future

The rail industry still has some way to go, however. It needs to switch more of its dirty diesel-powered trains to cleaner electric models, as electric trains are 25-30 per cent more CO2 efficient than diesel, according to figures published by ATOC, the Association of Train Operation Companies. Currently two thirds of the UK rail network still runs on diesel engines.

Electrification will also lead to increased train capacity and faster journeys, helping to attract passengers from more polluting forms of transport. Encouraging higher capacity on some services is also needed, as when a train isn’t full its average emissions per person are clearly higher.

New technology boosting rail travel’s eco efficiency – age of green trains

Other advances like the development of ‘regenerative braking’, where the power used to slow trains is re-used, will make further savings, as will training in ‘eco-driving’ techniques for train operators. On-train metering is also planned, which will help drivers monitor and reduce their train’s energy use.

Romance and style – you can’t beat the train

All in all, with adequate investment and a push for more electric trains, rail travel can only get greener. And besides the obvious environmental benefits, rail travel wins hands down on comfort and relaxation.

You can’t exactly get up and stretch your legs while motoring up the M1, and the poor legroom and narrow seats on planes rarely make flying a comfortable experience. Plus there’s no risk of traffic jams or queues at airport check-in desks with a train.

European green trains

You can’t beat the romance and style of train travel across Europe, and it’s much quicker than you might think to get to some of the continent’s great cities.

We all know that it’s just a couple of hours to Paris by train, but did you know it’s only a further three hours straight to Geneva, or just a shade over five hours from London to Amsterdam?

With high-speed rail links being expanded across Europe, it’s never been a better time to ditch the plane and start planning your city breaks by train.