Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 46 total)
  • Travel and environmental impact.
  • matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I’m in the position of heading to Salzburg, Ghent and Copenhagen in separate trips over the next few months. They’re all part of projets and training over 3 years, and we’ve reduced journeys made as low as we can. Ironically, the projects are environmental education and climate change projects.

    From Scotland, Copenhagen is a near direct line for a flight. Train is a lot longer distance, ferry similar.

    Salzburg is going to be an overnight by train.

    Ghent is likely just best on train.

    Flights for all are hugely cheap financially and less than a quarter of the time.

    There’s so much conflicting information about the environmental footprint – I’m struggling to find reliable information. Particularly about the Copenhagen trip.

    Where is a well informed environmental calculator for travelling?

    tjagain
    Full Member

    If you can’t find it I’m stumped.  Green party have anything?  friends of the earth?

    5lab
    Full Member

    its hard to calculate the effect of someone flying on a single journey, as the plane/train are going to run anyway, so the cost is the net impact of an extra ~100kg on that. Which is basically nothing for a train (which weighs maybe 500 tonnes, and additional weight is only relevent when you’re accelerating), and fairly small for a plane (at 60 tonnes or so, 100kg is a minimal difference, but it is impactful the whole time as you’re in the air the whole time).

    so you can’t just take the fuel used in flying the plane and divide it by 200 passengers, because it’ll fly whether you’re on it or not.

    3
    Daffy
    Full Member

    Anything which moves by rail in the UK is about 90% more sustainable than flying.  Anything which moves by rail in France is almost 98% more efficient, so even if the journey lengths were quadrupled by rail, it’s still saving a massive production of emissions.

    I’m going to Toulouse in October – my flight would be an hour 1.45h, my train journey is almost 12h and I need a hotel as I can’t do that journey in a day due to scheduling and time zones.  My train is 10* the price.  I’m still going by train.

    Ferries are terrible for emissions – DEFRAs dumb analysis wasn’t worth the time taken to write the report.  On Average ferries are about 2*worse per passenger KM than flights.

    If I had to take a ferry, I’d fly.

    3
    convert
    Full Member

    its hard to calculate the effect of someone flying on a single journey, as the plane/train are going to run anyway, so the cost is the net impact of an extra ~100kg on that. Which is basically nothing for a train (which weighs maybe 500 tonnes, and additional weight is only relevent when you’re accelerating), and fairly small for a plane (at 60 tonnes or so, 100kg is a minimal difference, but it is impactful the whole time as you’re in the air the whole time).

    so you can’t just take the fuel used in flying the plane and divide it by 200 passengers, because it’ll fly whether you’re on it or not.

    Sorry, but that’s just a bobbins way of thinking. That’s like me saying to me “well, the cow was grown anyway and they are going to kill it whatever you do, so it’s not really animal cruelty if you have a bit too”. Or “if I vote for a far right party for a laugh it’s not really going to make a difference because labour will get in the vote in my constituency anyway”.

    Ultimately if 50% of people who were going to fly elected not to airlines would put 50% less flights in the air (that might be a bit simplistic – might be smaller planes or the whole marketing model might crash and there be no planes as airline is in administration). As an individual obviously your difference is going to be small, but to my way of thinking you have to act like your actions are replicated by others to see the net impact.

    4
    rsl1
    Free Member

    so you can’t just take the fuel used in flying the plane and divide it by 200 passengers, because it’ll fly whether you’re on it or not.

    If 200 people regularly all decide to get the train instead then that flight will stop going eventually…

    1
    rsl1
    Free Member

    so you can’t just take the fuel used in flying the plane and divide it by 200 passengers, because it’ll fly whether you’re on it or not.

    If all 200 people chose not to fly, that plane would no longer be viable…

    Last time I tried to get numbers, I came out with 1 200g/km co2 ish car being roughly equivalent to 1 seat in a European short haul. Trains are obviously far better than cars.

    I recently got the sleeper train to Berlin, had a great time. Might have struggled to work at full capacity the day I arrived though.

    1
    5lab
    Full Member

    If all 200 people chose not to fly, that plane would no longer be viable…

    Correct, but the ops choice this one time will not have that impact, so shouldn’t be measured that way. You may choose to travel in certain ways to try and reduce emissions but calculating a single journey does not work that way. What if going by train causes them to put an extra train on in each leg?

    1
    slowol
    Full Member

    Direct ferries has a crude estimator (based on no. people in a car for car/ferry estimates).

    Closest journey to one of yours from their list is Edinburgh to Copenhagen. It shows 9.6 kg CO2 by train and ferry and 153.6 by plane.

    Might be worth a play for a rough estimate.
    https://www.directferries.co.uk/carbon_footprint_calculator.htm

    2
    Daffy
    Full Member

    Plane is 190g/pp/km including radiative forcing (this is average across a fleet), some routes will be less, others more, but it does include high altitude atmospherics.

    Train is between 19g and 70g/pp/km (UK diesel/electric intercity)

    Ferry depends heavily on load layout and sea conditions.  Single passenger is 29-35g/pp/km, but if it’s a car ferry and routinely packed with cars and freight, that number is much closer to 300g/pp/km. It also depends on fuel mix and other factors – that’s why the numbers vary so much.

    3
    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Thanks all

    I know there is a difference in footprint, just not how much of a difference…

    Time to take the slow route…

    vlad_the_invader
    Full Member

    Time to take the slow route…

    My boss would laugh me out the office if I suggested taking multiple days to do a trip which could be done much more time/cost efficiently…

    (Granted I work in a company that doesn’t have a greens agenda)

    1
    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    (Granted I work in a company that doesn’t have a greens agenda)

    Just wait till you see how many folk fly to COP next month…

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    I’m in the same predicament. I have a few trips to Gloucester coming up and I want to take the train.

    The overall experience of my last journey is putting me off. On the way down the useless booking agency didn’t give me a table or a window seat so I could plug in and work and the return journey is pretty much a one shot deal of either 3 or 6 trains over 7 – 7.5 hours with half an hours difference between the two and doesn’t give me any time to actually eat a proper meal since nobody actually puts anything but sandwiches in the buffet car these days. Oh and if I miss a connection that’s me stuffed and I’m stuck wherever the **** I am at the mercy of the booking agents to get a hotel, hopefully somewhere nearby.

    If it works for you, great. In reality though, for British intercity travel the rail network is utter dogshit if there is no direct train and forget doing it outside of business hours.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    ^^^ This is true.  I’ve made 6 journeys from Bristol to Leeds in the past 14months and EVERY SINGLE ONE has had the return train cancelled.  3 times leaving me stranded in Leeds and once meaning my return took 7.5h rather than 3.5h.  100% failure rate.

    1
    ahsat
    Full Member

    This website is often cited as a good place to start to calculate emissions for travel in Europe http://www.ecopassenger.org/

    WWF footprint calculator is also upheld for the methodology behind it, but doesn’t include the flight calculations.

    seadog101
    Full Member

    Calculating the enviromental footprint is is bafflingly complex.  Simply using CO2 emisssions for the journey is just part of the equation.

    What about all the farm/woodland that the train tracks are covering? Thats going to be much more than the size of the airports at either end.

    What about the impact of the production of the train, plane or ship?

    How is the fuel/power generated?

    Lifetime of the Vehicle?

    Is the vehicle recycled sustainably?

    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    What about all the farm/woodland that the train tracks are covering?

    Railways are usually over already cleared agricultural land and will have a nice green corridor of trees either side of it for most of the route (now those pesky steam trains don’t set fire to everything on the side of the tracks requiring them to be kept clear).  Play on google maps and you can still pick out many lines decades after they were removed by the green corridors of trees and hedges snaking through fields (except where the tracks were at ground level and farmers could easily reinstate the field)

    New projects like HS2 destroy a lot of land but it will regrow/be replanted so its CO2 from construction that is significant rather than long term reduction of trees in my opinion.  I’ve not looked but I expect HS2 will plant more hectares of woodland that it destroys?

    kormoran
    Free Member

    I’m traveling Edinburgh kings x a fair bit and my experience has so far been very positive. On time, fast, reasonable food delivered to your seat if you want it. So I think it’s a bit of a lottery as to the train operator/line you use. Ed to London is a very popular route of course, I’m sure that it gets polished up as a result.

    bensales
    Free Member

    My boss would laugh me out the office if I suggested taking multiple days to do a trip which could be done much more time/cost efficiently…

    (Granted I work in a company that doesn’t have a greens agenda)

    For personal travel where time is flexible, I can absolutely see the argument for mitigating climate impact. And I’m all in favour of it.

    But business travel is where it falls down. Time matters, as it’s either coming out of working time (ha! yeah right) or your own time (eff that for a game of soldiers).

    My company recently put in an edict that we can no longer fly within the UK. Because apparently, we can work on trains – despite our company security policies saying we’re not allowed to hold work calls in a public place, nor can we permit anyone else to see our laptop screens…

    Anyway, a couple of years ago I did a project in Glasgow. Travelling from Birmingham, this is easy. Hour to travel to Birmingham airport, check in etc, hour fifteen flight, thirty minutes to get out the airport and travel to the office. I could leave home at 7am and be in the office by 10am.

    To do this trip on the train, and be in by 10am I’d need to leave home at 11pm the night before. Or I lose a working day in the office at the start and end of the week for travel – client’s not going to go for that.

    To drive (in an EV), I’d need to leave home at 5am. Or lose a working day at the start and end of the week for travel – client’s not going to go for that.

    Or another example – project on the Isle of Man. Similar journey by plane as the one to Glasgow, taking a similar time.

    Train? Yeah, they don’t go on water, so it’d be train to Lancaster (for Heysham) or Liverpool taking three to four hours, taxi to the docks, three hours on the ferry, then a taxi to the office. Again, a whole day of travel instead of a short flight.

    Yes, we’d more likely do these projects remotely now, but as the OP has found, sometimes you physically need to be there, and for business travel time efficient is still really important.

    1
    5lab
    Full Member

    If the train option involves an extra night away from home, should you add in the cost of that too? 40kg per night according to a quick Google https://staze.com/blog/why-does-staying-in-a-hotel-have-a-carbon-footprint/#:~:text=The%20average%20carbon%20footprint%20of,hotel%20stay%20is%2040kg%20CO2*

    timf
    Full Member

    You first need to ask if you realy need to be there in person, or could the activity take place virtualy

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    You first need to ask if you realy need to be there in person, or could the activity take place virtualy

    We have. These are 3x three-year projects, with multiple countries and hundreds of people being trained. To have cut things down to one or two trips per project to do project set up between 10 of us, attend learning events and physically visit projects is pretty good. We’ve rolled trips onto one longer stay away. In the past I bet there would have been two or three trips per year, per project.

    UK travel by train – already do that. I was in London last week, back down next week and again start of November.

    ScotRail and LNER down the east mainline are generally good, as is anything southeast UK.
    However Avanti and Transpennine are the definition of chaos and disorganisation. I hate having to go down the west mainlines or trundle between northern cities.

    whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    as an old accountant i love a ‘sunk’ cost in the equation, can be used the calculate the answer desired..

    TheBrick
    Free Member

    Plane is 190g/pp/km including radiative forcing (this is average across a fleet), some routes will be less, others more, but it does include high altitude atmospherics.

    Train is between 19g and 70g/pp/km (UK diesel/electric intercity)

    Ferry depends heavily on load layout and sea conditions. Single passenger is 29-35g/pp/km, but if it’s a car ferry and routinely packed with cars and freight, that number is much closer to 300g/pp/km. It also depends on fuel mix and other factors – that’s why the numbers vary so much.

    Do you have numbers for cars and assumed mpg and number of passengers?

    2
    molgrips
    Free Member

    so you can’t just take the fuel used in flying the plane and divide it by 200 passengers, because it’ll fly whether you’re on it or not.

    This is where individual actions like this break down. It makes sod all difference right now if you fly or take the train. But that’s not the real issue. Yes, the plane will fly anyway, but what we need is for everyone not to fly, so that the plane doesn’t fly.

    The real change you can make is petition your company not to make you travel, because that will apply to far more people. And then petition your customers not to ask you to travel. Then perhaps they won’t ask their other suppliers to travel. But even then that’s not ideal – we need governments to stop us travelling when it’s not really neccessary.

    Olly
    Free Member

    If all 200 people chose not to fly, that plane would no longer be viable…

    depressingly not true.

    Airlines only get to keep their “slots” at airports if they use them, so plenty of flights are made with empty plane, purely to keep the route available

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/28/revealed-5000-completely-empty-ghost-flights-in-uk-since-2019-data-shows

    pressumably they also have to move them empty because they are taking up a parkiing space, and because there may be passengers waiting a the other end to come back (or onwards to another location)

    Ive been the sole passenger on flights to Jersey a few times.

    Annoyingly, it stops at Gurnesey on the way, and they legally have to do the little “your exits are here here and here” dance at every take off.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    Airlines only get to keep their “slots” at airports if they use them, so plenty of flights are made with empty plane, purely to keep the route available

    If 200 people never fly, then they’ll withdraw the flight or cancel the route entirely.

    sparksmcguff
    Full Member

    Hey Matt, in terms of time taken I’ve found the train to be very helpful for getting work done. Admittedly you probably aren’t going to spend long talking to people but I get a lot of written work done. And creative thinking. Time spent travelling by train isn’t wasted for me. Whereas flying was entirely wasted time (for me).

    5lab
    Full Member

    If 200 people never fly, then they’ll withdraw the flight or cancel the route entirely.

    Only is 200 people don’t fly, each way, every day of the year. That’s 14,000 journeys that have to be not made. One journey up there won’t make a difference

    fossy
    Full Member

    Are the trips really necessary ? Can meetings be conducted on line.

    We’ve had any catering for a working lunch made vegan by a few folk due to environmental impact (no choice for meat eaters). Same folk drive to work and fly around the world for conferences.

    Very noble of you using the train, but we would be told no on cost. We are a very sustainable business, but the cost and time would outweigh the environmental impact. Takes alot of vegan sandwiches to offset flight co2.

    1
    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    @5lab

    Or, they operate 12 flights a week to a particular destination, rather than 14.  You are taking the example to extremes.

    Personal choices make a difference, especially when topics like these might influence others or even influence corporate policy.  It’s supply and demand, no business will continue to operate uneconomic flights unless there is some unhealthy competitive reason to block another operator.

    There will always be people that are not prepared to trade their time and money for more sensitive travel options.  This is why governments like France remove personal choice, I very much support their policy of banning flights where suitable train alternatives exist.

    2
    easily
    Free Member

    Have you thought about cycling?

    poly
    Free Member

    The real change you can make is petition your company not to make you travel, because that will apply to far more people.

    realistically most companies massively reduced travel after Covid, but there are things which are much easier to do face to face so there should always still be such interactions.  Most people who have run projects 100% virtual agree that it can mostly work but don’t underestimate waste from not being face to face to solve a problem or not having peoples undivided attention, not to mention that virtual calls require huge data centres etc too!  If a flight saves a month of ten people doing something unproductive it might not be the worst option.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    I do agree that a certain amount of travel can really help. But we need to understand the true cost of this. I mean yes it’s harder to do virtually but perhaps we should just put up with it?

    freeagent
    Free Member

    In my industry business travel was the norm pre-COVID, however i’d say its only recovered to 50-60% of pre-COVID levels. The company is keen to push video conferencing and any other means to avoid travel, however i’m not sure this is driven by a green agenda, i think they just saw how much money they saved during lock-down and want to keep close to that going forward.

    There are still people travelling for shaky reasons though – one of our directors paid £6k to fly business class to India for a ship launch last year, and two of our service techs flew to Miami recently to do some maintenance tasks on a ship which my kids could probably have done – however the customer wanted them out there.

    I travel from SE London (Bromley) to Glasgow 3-4 times a year – the flights are cheap, and i can do a full day meeting then fly home at 6pm – if i took the train it would make the trip into 2 nights away rather than one, so its not going to happen. The flights are also cheaper than rail, however when you factor in airport parking it closes the gap.

    Nobody really gets the train for work stuff at our place – its just regarded as too expensive and/or inflexible. Everyone either drives, or if its possible/overseas – flies.

    As for holidays – TBH whilst i appreciate we all should be doing our bit, i don’t think my family getting a train the the Dordogne next spring rather than driving is going to make a great deal of difference whilst Russia are hell bent on burning a hole in the ozone layer over Ukraine.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Have you thought about cycling?

    I did look last night at Hull-Zeebrugge ferry and cycling! I know a bunch of our partners would happily join in, one of our hosts is a huge Belgian cyclocross fan…

    Are the trips really necessary ? Can meetings be conducted on line.

    Hundreds of meetings over the next three years will.
    Unfortunately you cannot replace site visits and direct time to collaborate on project set up as a larger group online.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    In my industry business travel was the norm pre-COVID, however i’d say its only recovered to 50-60% of pre-COVID levels.

    For me and the people I work with it’s far less than that, but I think overall passenger numbers are nearly the same as pre-COVID no?

    TheBrick
    Free Member

    I’ve found the train to be very helpful for getting work done. Admittedly you probably aren’t going to spend long talking to people but I get a lot of written work done. And creative thinking. Time spent travelling by train isn’t wasted for me. Whereas flying was entirely wasted time (for me).

    I like the fact you say say “for me”:). I struggled to work when (I was) traveling, I probably could have written a few emails but that wasn’t a big part of my job. Anything that required working on code or a document I would struggle with. I had a mate who would program on a flight, laptop half open, tilted etc. Maybe its just motivation for the job! Plus on a train I really like looking out the window.

    fossy
    Full Member

    I think, a lot comes down to time and cost for business. If they are happy with the extra cost (you can work easier on a train) and you are happy to be away for longer (complaints from family) – go for it. It’s just UK trains that put me off – once in Europe, fab.

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