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MYSTERY BUYER


TESTING THE GREEN T


HERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK about climate change recently, with the aviation sector particularly in the sights of protesters. As travel managers, we have some really good data on emissions available on air travel, as well


as car, and to some extent hotel stays, but very little on rail travel. Many travel professionals, industry bodies, the government and, of course, the rail industry, are of the opinion that rail is the greenest form of travel, but it would be useful if we could have data to prove or disprove this. For example, here’s an excerpt from a government report entitled Measuring and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions – A Department for Transport Guide to Work-Related Travel: “Information on rail travel emissions could be sourced from travel suppliers, similar to those identified for flights,” it says. “This could include TMCs, self-booking tools, third-party data analysts, and expense and subsistence systems. The GDS can also be used to source data, but only for some international rail journeys. Information on UK-based rail journeys is not held on the GDS.”


This is just not true, you cannot get data on rail from these sources. “Potential sources of data from internal man- agement information systems are similar to those used for air travel,” the report continues. Again, no, they aren’t! Yes, many of us travel to work in vastly overcrowded commuter trains, and we assume these journeys are “green” because there


46 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 WHAT IS THE


RAIL THEORY


When it comes to sustainable travel, all forms of transport need to be transparent with their emission reporting


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF HS2?


are a lot of us on one train. But many of us have travelled at non-peak times and enjoyed a four-seat table to ourselves, or even a whole carriage. Surely these services cannot be green? And there are an awful lot of half-empty trains shuffling around Britain every day. What about the infrastructure for rail, with miles of metal tracks, wires, poles, stations, signs, and so on? Take the newly electrified GWR railway lines, for example. In some areas there are large metal structures every 20 metres – eventually they will be installed all the way from London to Penzance. How many tonnes of carbon were used


to produce that? What of the emissions associated with their construction, transportation and installation? Who is measuring the green impact? Similarly, what is the environmental impact of building HS2?


A REAL COMPARISON Yes, a new runway at an airport is going to impact the environment, but how does that compare to the miles of metal and wiring from Paddington to Penzance, or London to Birmingham? In reality, there are very few routes within the UK where we can compare travel by airline to a journey by train. A business trip from Exeter to Edinburgh by train is not going


to be very efficient, versus a direct flight.


When the rail companies are “forced” to provide accu- rate, meaningful data, we will be able to compare.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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