Air to rail shift pays environmental dividends

Passengers travelling between London and Scotland are increasingly opting for rail travel rather than air, with rail’s share of the market rising to 33% over ten years.

A new report from Transform Scotland, A Green Journey to Growth, says if the growth in market share were to reach 50% by 2023 there would be an estimated 5% drop in carbon emissions (almost 600,000 tonnes), even allowing for assumed continual annual growth of 2%.

Between 2005 and 2015 passengers travelling by rail between Edinburgh and London rose from 24% to 34% and by 15% to 32% between Glasgow and London.

"The Scottish transport sector has failed to take significant action to tackle climate change, and has recently become the single largest source of carbon emissions,” says Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland.

“However, one area where there has been significant progress is in Anglo-Scottish travel, where rail's share of the travel market has grown strongly over the past decade.”

He continues: "Our report shows that rail's success in capturing market share from air has prevented an increase in carbon emissions across the entire Scotland-London travel market.

“The resulting carbon savings made over the past decade is equivalent to removing all traffic on the M8 for travel between the outskirts of Glasgow and Edinburgh for two years.”

Howden concludes: “In order to continue this positive trend in a switch to rail, we need to see increased investment in the rail network, Government taking the lead and encouraging public bodies to use the train rather than flying to London, and a fairer taxation system for Anglo-Scottish travel."