April 23, 2024

Research shows rail versus car carbon footprint on top business routes

Research into the sustainability credentials of rail has found that taking the train on the top 100 business routes in Britain is almost nine times greener than using a petrol or diesel car on average.     

The findings, released today by the Rail Delivery Group, also show that rail uses more than four times less carbon than using a plug-in hybrid electric car and almost two-and-a-half times less carbon than using a battery electric car. 

The data, collected in partnership with Thrust Carbon, 3Squared, Black Box Partnerships and rail operators, is designed to create an industry benchmark for transport carbon emissions.

Some of the business travel journeys with the lowest carbon emissions per passenger, compared to one person travelling alone by petrol or diesel car, include:

  • Haymarket Station in Edinburgh to London King’s Cross which produces 19.85 times fewer CO₂ emissions
  • London King’s Cross to York, which produces 15.13 times less carbon
  • Darlington to London King’s Cross, which produces 14.88 times less carbon
  • Ebbsfleet International to St Pancras International, which produces 14.41 times less carbon.

This is the first time detailed rail data from across the industry – including engine type, fuel type, journey distance, occupancy and carriage layout – has been combined to showcase the environmental benefits of rail travel for the top 100 business routes across Britain. 

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. 

“This is an important milestone but we want to do more. We want to help business travellers to make greener travel choices. Having our Green Travel Pledge data available through global and domestic travel management companies and online booking tools will enable more businesses to choose rail as their first choice for business travel and reduce their carbon footprint.” 

Clive Wratten, CEO at the Business Travel Association, said: “We’ve heard loud and clear from our members and the business travel community that consistency in carbon measurement is an imperative.  

“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.” 

Sarah Ockendon, Procurement Manager at the John Lewis Partnership, said:  “This will empower us to make better informed decisions about rail as a sustainable business travel option.   

“The Green Travel Pledge will offer a reliable evidence base to demonstrate rail’s role in helping us to reach our CO2 sustainability goals.” 

RDG has produced a league table of the 100 greenest business routes.