To have a hope of achieving net zero, we need to make the 21st century the new golden age of the railways. Let’s call it the Great Train Recovery.
Our daily journeys account for a huge chunk of the nation’s CO2 emissions: 27 per cent in 2019. Among the non-bike options of trains, planes and cars, trains are by far the greenest. The European Environment Agency suggests that rail travel creates 14 grams of CO2 emissions per passenger mile, compared with 158 grams by car and 285 grams by plane.
The train numbers are assuming an entirely full train. The car ones are not assuming a full car. Further, the train numbers don’t include – in the normal calcs at least – the emissions of getting the empty trains back to starting points.
We have an easier method of calculation. Prices. As long as those prices are including all externalities then price is the only thing we need to look at to see resource use. And four folks getting in a car is cheaper than four getting the train. Thus cars use fewer resources. QED.
BTW, yes, petrol externalities are included in UK prices.