With the threat of global warming at the forefront of politician’s minds, we are increasingly being encouraged to dump our cars and use public transport. But is this really to our advantage and is rail travel the best transport method for the future?
All the Yes points:
- Reduces CO2 emissions
- Rail travel is cheaper
- Rail travel is often faster
- Trains do run often and alert you to any delays
All the No points:
- Many trains do not have air-conditioning
- Trains can be very uncomfortable
- The ever-present threat of terrorism or a crash
- Bicycles are the best mode of transport for the future
- Luggage limitations
- Can only travel so far (distance-wise)
- Germs and all things icky
Reduces CO2 emissions
Yes, yes, we all know, we should be switching the television off stand-by when not in use. And that we should be getting out of our cars and getting on trains, buses and bicycles to reduce global warming. It certainly is not easy, particularly when generations of today have become so used to modern conveniences, namely cars. As soon as an individual passes their driving test, many are unlikely to get on a bus again! But the reality is, using rail travel is much better for the environment. The Manchester Commute Challenge recorded that the train commuter produced 382 grams of CO2, the bus commuter 603 grams and the car produced 1123 grams(1). If everybody were to cut down how much they used their car, it really would make the world of difference for the future. Additionally, the creation of car parks uses land that could be used for more homes in Britain or maintaining a greener country. Imagine the amount of car parking space would be needed during a global event, such as at the Olympics in 2012.
Travelling by bicycle does not produce any CO2 emissions!
Rail travel is cheaper
With the ever increasing rise in fuel prices, it is difficult to tell when it will ever stop. Car users are shelling out more and more money to pay at the pumps for their petrol and feel bitter having done so. Travelling by rail means that you do not pay to fill up your car, only for your fare and do not have to concern yourself with where to park your car or bike and do not have to pay for the pleasure: particularly trying to park in London. Perhaps travelling by train makes us all better off in the long run.
This really all does depend on what distance the rail commuter is going and what ticket they buy. A traveller going from Birmingham to London Euston, one of the busiest routes in the country, would pay £123 for an return fare by rail, whereas if they were to rent a car with a friend for two days, including fuel and the congestion charge, would pay £57.79 each(1).
Rail travel is often faster
For much of your journey, a train reaches a speed twice that of the limit allowed on roads. When travelling by plane, you have to get to the airport, check-in, endure the flight and then any onward travel to your destination. A train takes you from city to city efficiently: from London to Brussels in 2 hours 40 minutes; from London to Paris in three hours, saving us all plenty of much-needed time(1). Roads and motorways do get very congested and this is unlikely to happen on a train.
Once again, it depends what train you are on! Whilst many trains do travel faster than cars and especially bicycles, the London Underground trains have an average speed of 20.5mph(1). That is not particularly fast and is very frustrating.
Trains do run often and alert you to any delays
There can be no excuses: on the London Underground, trains do run very frequently. You are alerted to any delays online, in stations, or whilst you are on the train itself.
Many trains do not run all the way through the night and this is very inconvenient for many, whereas you can get in a car or on your bicycle at any time. It is also the most frustrating voice who alerts you to a signal failure on your line during the mad dash into work in London on a Monday morning. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to avoid it! This makes commuters late and businesses suffer.
I think trains are a great form of transportation. Have you ever been to Japan?
That is THE mode of transportation. Cheap, easy, fast. Crowded? Yes for sure but it gets you from point A to B in a fast fashion.
It may not be ideal for traveling out of state, but going from city to city in a train is a great way for transportation.
Of course… it will probably cost A LOT of money and a LONG time if they got started now..
Ok you are totally wrong about fast, ever heard of the TGV?
True travelling by trains is a great mode of transportation, that is if you dont mind germs, illness, being late, inconvenience and putting yourself in danger.
Capitalising “THE” does not make your argument more persuasive when trying to argue that train transportation is the mode of the future. Cheap, easy and fast? I can assure you they are NOT.
Did you know that a CSX train can travel 500 MI on 1 gal of diesel? What if we applied that to passenger trains? Remember this is about the future. Which is more important the environment or you getting to work on time?
Many trains do not have air-conditioning
The rail traveller is dressed in his suit on his way to work on a hot July Monday morning, using the London Underground, along with 28 million others(1) who do so each year. In terms of how rail travel fares in the future, the commuter will not fare well as he has passed out in the carriage because it is so hot! It is well known that the London Underground has insufficient air-conditioning, unless you stick your head out of the window at the end of the carriage.
But what about the other rail networks? From personal experience, I travelled on a Virgin train from London Euston to Manchester and I was freezing. Or you can cycle and enjoy a nice breeze!
Trains can be very uncomfortable
Aside from the heat factor, rail travel is very uncomfortable in the long run. Travelling during peak times usually means you will not get a seat, you have to cling on to a hoop hanging from the train ceiling whilst you head is buried in a fellow passengers’ armpit. Chasing through stations is similar to a rat-race. This is not the most appealing transport method and does put many passengers off travelling in such a way.
If trains were more widely recognised as a transport mode for the future, government would feel pressured to make some intervention on the train industry so they could provide more trains and so they would not be so crowded. If people are put off by it and simply drive, they are not helping the problem but hindering it.
The ever-present threat of terrorism or a crash
It is true; the chance of your train being subject to a terrorism attack or a crash is very unlikely. But yet, the threat does linger. After 7/7, many rail users were reluctant to use the train after hearing about such horrifying experiences. Being attacked whilst in your car or on a bicycle seems much less likely. Statistics released today by the Evening Standard show that passengers who are standing are three times more likely to be injured in a crash than those who are seated(1).
This is manipulating statistics to the worst degree.
Of course a terrorist is not going to bomb a bicycle as its travelling along the road! But it is more likely a bike will be hit by a car than a terrorist planting a bomb on the train you are on. If we totalled up statistics, compared train accidents/bombings with car crashes and bike accidents I ma sure you would find that the train is a far safer mode of transport.
” Nowhere near as dangerous as they used to be, is the upbeat answer. Last year, 3,423 people were killed on the roads, two more than in 1998. (By comparison, 33 were killed on the railways.)
Bicycles are the best mode of transport for the future
Bicycles do score highly when tested against other modes of transport. Bikes are faster; weaving in and out of traffic – experiencing no delays such as traffic or signal failures. Bikes are cheaper; once you have paid for the bike you do not pay for fuel, the congestion charge or parking. Bikes give off no CO2 emissions and are the ultimate way forward for a greener Britain.
Perhaps I speak for myself, but the idea of getting on a bike to dangerously wobble through traffic in lycra whilst huffing and puffing is possibly the most undesirable thought ever. You have to pass your cycling proficiency test to cycle; you pay out a lump sum for the bicycle itself and then have to negotiate heavy and often dangerous traffic whilst drivers tut at you. Fair play to those who do cycle a great deal: but, I doubt that a Britain that is supposedly getting fatter will all start cycling soon.
Rail travel is not the way forward for those who want to holiday in Britain. There is no space for your luggage on the London Underground (imagine heaving a suitcase onto the Central Line at 8am on a Monday morning) and very limited on all other trains – usually just a small cubby hole at the end of the carriage or the dangerous-looking shelf above your head.
Well then as a one off, for holidays, people could use a car. This does not negate the fact that trains should be the main mode of transport for all people. that rail companies currently only provide limited luggage space does not religate rail travel from being the mode of transport for the future as rail transport could carry as much luggage as any sane person is likely to want to bring once more luggage racks were fitted. Or else if you happen to want to take more luggage with you than you can carry then the railways could do as they once offered and deliver it in a similar maner to the way airlines do now.
Can only travel so far (distance-wise)
The answer to long distance travel lies only on a plane or helicopter. I have not yet heard of a train that will take me to the Caribbean. A car or bicycle will take you to your destination, from door-to-door. Yes, rail travel is efficient in travelling to some of Europe’s most popular cities, such as Paris and Brussels, but more and more Brits are venturing abroad and the need for another runway at Heathrow shows that flying is a very popular mode of transport and will remain so for the future.
Germs and all things icky
Germs and disease causing pathogens are spread on trains very easily as carriages are not often sanitised. Holding a hand rail on a train could leave you with an illness for a week- or worse! This is caused by any mode of transport where large volumes of people travel daily. In a day and age when germs are immunising themselves from antibiotics quicker than we are making new antibiotics to cure the afflictions, an increased risk of illness does not bode well.
But germs will be everywhere. Your bike, an airplane, or a motorcycle. Face facts and accept that germs will be everywhere.