Green Vacations — Travelers Choose Trains if Deals Are Right

In a recent survey published by Eurostar (a rail line), travelers in the United Kingdom (UK) were asked to select factors that were important in choosing their holiday or short break destination. “Cost of getting there” was selected seven times more often than “Carbon footprint,” which ranked well below other factors as well, like “Going somewhere new.”  This is not an uncommon experience. How we get to where we want to go is overwhelmed by other factors. Even this in mind the greening of travel continues.

Faced with global climate change, many around the globe, from governments to companies to individuals, have warmed to train travel.

Traveling by rail is on average three to 10 times less CO2-intensive compared to road or air transport, according to the UIC, a Paris-based international organization of the railway sector.

Among governments, China has been especially aggressive, spending heavily on its emerging high-speed nationwide rail network.  In December 2009 it launched a line between the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou that cuts travel time from over 10 hours to within three, putting pressure on domestic airlines.  With an average speed of 350 kilometers per hour, the energy-efficient train is faster than its peers in Europe and Japan and makes the Acela “Express” service in the U.S. seem more like an amusement park tram.

Considering the intense delays often found at busy airports due to heavy plane scheduling and security lines, it can be more timely as well as with a better carbon footprint to go by rail where available. However, the key is not just green but cost and timeliness.

In Swedish it’s a Gröna Tåget, but in English you can call it a Green Train. Developed by Banverket the Swedish Railway Administration and Bombardier, the train is based on Bombardier’s Regina model.  Fitted out with ECO4 energy efficiency gadgetry, such as Bombardier’s MITRAC Permanent Magnet Motor and an assistance system which allows the driver to monitor speed and traction force, this new train not only set a new Swedish speed record (295 km/h; 183 mph) but consumes 20-30% less energy than your average train.

From 1990 to 2005 European railways cut their CO2 emissions by 21 percent in absolute terms, according to the UIC. In May 2008, they agreed to a target of an average sector-wide cut of 30 percent in specific emissions over the 1990 to 2020 period.

Nearly half of British tourists, according to the Eurostar survey (conducted over 2008 to 2009), say environmental issues have an impact on their vacation decisions and 60% say the environment is a priority when spending overall. However, having impact does not mean the consumer will do the green thing by itself. If the green choice costs more, the average consumer will often choose the less expensive route.

Companies are promoting the green aspects of their products more than ever before whether it is detergent or a train ride. For example, a television ad in Norway starts with animated flowers choking on car exhaust fumes and ends with customers riding contentedly with Norwegian State Railways.

Article by Andy Soos, appearing courtesy of ENN

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In Swedish it’s a Gröna Tåget, but in English you can call it a Green Train. Developed by Banverket the Swed…

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