The Intergenerational Foundation think tank has urged the UK government to support the domestic train trip as an alternative to flying – this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector, it said. The organization wants to ban internal routes that can be traveled by train in four and a half hours or less. Research conducted by The Intergenerational Foundation showed that making domestic flights a habit of the past would result in a 53 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from all domestic aviation. It also found that nearly a third of train journeys are as fast or faster as air travel, with nearly two-thirds taking less than 30 minutes extra by train.
A ban on domestic flights could mean the end of routes from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as those from Bristol to Manchester and London to Leeds. The flight from Anglesey to Cardiff could also be cancelled.
Trains, coaches and buses are all alternative modes of transport to flying, but would the Brits who habitually board a plane be ready and willing to use them?
Stephen Hockley, who works in travel marketing, from Plymouth, has been traveling and writing to earn money for over 10 years. Stephen currently travels full-time as part of his job and said he has “strong opinions” about the idea of banning internal flights.
For him, the problem is the lack of suitable alternatives to flying. He explained: “While I love the idea, I’m super against giving more power to privatized train companies.
“I think they would use it as an opportunity to make huge amounts of money, and they are already way too expensive.”
At the time of writing, a train from Edinburgh to London, one way and without a railcard, costs £63.40 at 6:52am on Tuesday 15th November via Trainline. Looking at the exact same date and time, a flight from Edinburgh London costs £47, with Ryanair. The previous journey takes five and a half hours. The last? A quick hour and a half.
Stephen continued: “So, apart from trains for most people because of cost, we have buses and coaches. I love those, but there aren’t many options. So, taking all this into account, maybe the best solution is to have alternatives that are so good that people automatically stop flying. Cheaper trains and more bus companies.”
Keyna Jason, a customer relationship manager at an energy company, agreed with Stephen. Originally from Coventry, Kenya is an avid traveler and believes banning domestic flights is not a viable option.
She said: “Before the pandemic I preferred to holiday outside the UK mainly because it is cheaper to fly to Paris for example than to take the train from London. Even traveling to Edinburgh by train is still a hassle for me due to the associated cost and time factor.”
Keyna continued: “In my view, if rail fares were cut massively and faster trains became available that could reduce journey times from one end of the UK to the other, then banning short-haul flights for some destinations would be in the first place make socioeconomic sense rather than environmental awareness.
“Although the aim is to reduce carbon emissions, the government also needs to consider the time factor. It can take longer and make multiple stops to reach different destinations in the UK and time is an important factor in today’s world .
“If more overnight or sleeper trains are introduced as an additional option to reduce or alleviate the stress of traveling longer distances to places that can be reached earlier in the day or later in the night, then I can ban the likely see short-haul flights as a responsible option. Also, for example, Paris has double-decker trains that can accommodate more commuters, as well as larger train spaces. Most trains in the UK are too compact, making longer train journeys uncomfortable.”
Keyna added that “trains aren’t that reliable anyway – there are too many last minute cancellations, diversions and delays”.
“The government needs to solve that problem first,” she said.
Claire Robinson takes a different view. Although she does not think a total ban on domestic flights is fair, she thinks that Britons should make more of an effort to travel by train or bus instead of by plane. Claire, a travel writer with her own website, Weekendcandy.com, lives in the Cotswolds and often travels for work. She said: “I think we need to have a credible alternative that means people are encouraged to make the right choice for the environment.
“If the rule was that you should only fly if there is no credible alternative then that would be a sensible idea. A blanket ban would be unfair to people who have no other way of getting where they need to go for work, etc. “
Claire added that “trains and cars are better and I think they should be incentivized for use alongside domestic flights”.
“For example, if companies took the lead and encouraged train travel for work, more money would be pumped into the network, leading to a better experience.”
The people behind Flix Bus UK, who provide coach travel to and from various destinations in the UK, think buses are a more than adequate alternative to flights. The company’s research found that 34 million passengers traveled with Flix between April and September this year, a massive 130 percent increase from last year.
Flix prides itself on “providing reliable travel across Britain, 365 days a year, to over 40 destinations”. Travel prices also start from just £2.99.
Andreas Schorling, managing director of Flix Bus UK, told Express.co.uk: “We welcome any action that encourages passengers to choose environmentally friendly forms of collective transport.
“Coach is not only the most sustainable option when traveling over long distances, it also offers great value for money compared to expensive fuel costs and airline tickets. Onboarding is quick, simple and easy and allows passengers to travel directly from city center to city center to travel. “