Do fuck off, Laddie

New research from SilverRail shows that beyond the environmental benefits of trains over planes, the true time of travel for rail is on par with air for the four most popular domestic British flights: London Heathrow and Gatwick to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Phasing out these four routes would save the equivalent of 488,076 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Let’s not forget that fast electric trains between London and Leeds helped to end those short-haul flights. The intercity journey is 130 minutes quicker in total and saves an estimated 10,380 tonnes of CO2 every year. The opening of the Elizabeth Line and better rail connections can also transport passengers to airports who would just be connecting to international flights.

OK, that electrification to Leeds. No idea what it cost but clearly it was something. So, the benefit is? According to the Stern Review it’s $80 per tonne CO2-e. $830,560 a year benefit then. Around and about £500k.

So, is half a million a year worth that investment of whatever it was in the electrification to Leeds?

Quite. Fuck off, Laddie.

23 thoughts on “Do fuck off, Laddie”

  1. Being fair, and taken at face value, if London/Leeds is now 130 minutes quicker then folks have 130 minutes more utility available.
    What’s that going to be … a few hundred people per day at minimum wage … say £25 each or thereabouts. A couple of million quid a year?

  2. Let the travelling public choose. X hours at Y pounds to go by air vs P hours at Q pounds to go by rail. A friend of mine once went from London to Manchester by air, but only because she’d just stepped off a ‘plane in London to start with.

    It’s been know for decades, probably over a century, that this stuff goes by a power relationship. Up to 10^x miles walk, up to 10^y miles bus, up to 10^z miles train, over 10^z miles air. You would’t go by train from UK to Japan, you wouldn’t go by air to the shops. When we get space travel there’ll be another range added at the top.

  3. In a previous life I had to make fairly regular trips to Edinburgh. No way could I do that in a day on the train or driving. However an hour drive to Stansted & the early Air UK flight to Edinburgh got me there to do a decent day’s work.

    About once a year we did a 2 or 3 day planning get-together at the Dryburgh Abbey hotel and I used to drive up for that. Nice selection of Malts in the bar!

  4. Look at the London to Edinburgh train for Monday 28th November (Same Day Return). The point-to-point time schedule is 4h 20m at a very variable cost of around £200, so up at 5:30AM and home around midnight if you’re lucky and live close enough to central London to get the tube back and forth.

    Flights from London City are £253 about the same time but only take 1hr 25m, which is the difference between spending a few hours in Edinburgh and a full day, getting back around 20:30hrs.

    For most people, it ain’t the cost difference, it’s the time difference.

  5. Once you remove the pointless security checks at airports, then the differential moves back in favour of air travel. I always wondered why we were forced to spend 2 hours waiting in the airport but not at a coach or train station

  6. So no domestic flights to Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Hebridies, Shetland.
    I hope the idiot gets seasick.
    We looked at the idea of taking a train & boat to the Hebridies rather than flying – takes an extra day each way.

  7. The one year of my life when I depended on the East Coast main line the Penmanshiel Tunnel fell in which left that line NBG. You could take a bus around the obstacle or sit on a train that crossed the country to Carlisle before turning north again.

    WKPD: “on 17 March 1979 when, during improvement works, a length of the tunnel collapsed. … Later it was determined that the ground was not stable enough to excavate and rebuild the tunnel, so it was sealed up …”

    “The tunnel was also affected by the August 1948 floods. The damage caused by these floods led to the abandonment of much of the railway network in the south east of Scotland.”

    Note to Met Office: yes, there were destructive floods in the past. Shocking, innit?

  8. Mind you I once did a day’s work, took the sleeper from London to Inverness, did a good day’s work there, and then flew back in the evening. And the breakfast as we rolled down Speyside was excellent. So were the views. Them wuz the days.

  9. So no domestic flights to Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Hebridies, Shetland. I hope the idiot gets seasick. We looked at the idea of taking a train & boat to the Hebridies rather than flying – takes an extra day each way.

    Being Manx/Irish I’ve always preferred the ferry anyway, because I could take the car full of my office shit and it’s only 4.5 hours, but on the first/last leg of a European trip that 20 minute flight between Ronaldsway and Manchester Airport is pretty cosy. As long as someone else is paying.

    The ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick, Shetland took 12.5 hours when I did it and the sea was as rough as buggery even in late April. Wouldn’t fancy that as the only means on-and-off the island.

  10. Since the cost, in CO2 or money, of moving a train from A to B is the same whether the train is full or empty occupancy has to be a major factor.

  11. ‘… the true time of travel for rail is on par with air for the four most popular domestic British flights: ’

    If you leave out the 2 to 3 hours you need to get to/from the station each end, and the inconvenience and cost of hacking by public transport because you can’t use your car, and of course frequency.

  12. “Let’s not forget that fast electric trains between London and Leeds helped to end those short-haul flights.”

    I’ll tell you what ended short-haul flights: nerds working remotely. I used to fly up to Glasgow every week in the late 90s for a project. Lots of people did this sort of thing. Fly up on Monday AM fly back Friday. What was that airline in Exeter that went to the wall? Anyway, their whole thing was various UK internal flights.

    “The intercity journey is 130 minutes quicker in total and saves an estimated 10,380 tonnes of CO2 every year. ”

    This is where these absolute throbbers measure the journey from central London to central Leeds, and how the predictions for rail demand are so faulty. Rail Wankers can never grasp that most people aren’t doing that. They’re going from their home in Croydon or St Albans to a business on an industrial park in Huddersfield. At which point, it doesn’t make much difference.

    Like my father-in-law used to go and see a factory in one of those towns around Paris. I think Evreux. From Northampton he reckoned it was as quick to drive with Le Shuttle than to take the train. Because all the fannying around with connections each end really breaks down the speed.

  13. What was that airline in Exeter that went to the wall?

    Flybe? Used to use them frequently up until the week they went bust, since they had a nice shuttle service between Dusseldorf and Manchester with connections to the Isle of Man.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flybe_(1979%E2%80%932020)

    They’ve been resurrected, but I doubt the market is there any more. The pandemic switchover to WFH and Zoom probably killed most of the market.

  14. John Galt,

    “They’ve been resurrected, but I doubt the market is there any more. The pandemic switchover to WFH and Zoom probably killed most of the market.”

    The remote thing (at least in software) was happening from about 2005 onwards for me. As the costs fell and security and stability improved, if you were a company and didn’t have to fly people in, put them up in hotels etc etc that was a huge saving. Something like £1500/week.

  15. At BP Oil we had specific teleconference facilities between West Coast, Chicago, London and Singapore to try and reduce travel costs, but the suite and the equipment was expensive as hell, difficult to use and still not great image (about 2001/2002)

    I think it was around 2008 that we were able to do point-to-point video across the internet using Skype which was just about doable with headphones or Jabra device for 2-way audio.

    I guess that a lot of the technology was in place and useable before the pandemic, it’s just that it took the pandemic to force it to be used. After all, the projects travel budget won’t spend itself.

  16. The reason trains are as fast as planes is because of the inordinate amount of time you have to spend kicking your heels at the airport and going through the security theatre. I discovered that from door, to door, I could drive to Glasgow for my contract work and be there at much the same time as if I had flown. Yet the flight was less than an hour. Flight is being handicapped.

  17. I like converting tonnes of CO2 into people eliminated from existence.
    In round numbers UK residents produced 10t CO2 at their peak, and 2/3rds of that now.
    So an alleged 10,380 tonnes of CO2 saving converts to 1038*1.5 = the CO2 output of 1557 people.

    Or about the same as 15000 omnivores going vegetarian.

    That net immigration figure per year is what?

    Nah, forget it, behavioural change can gtf, only technology and perhaps regulatory change can save us. Maybe car insurance which lets you give lifts for a small profit. Cars being bloody useful and all

  18. I used to weekly commute from London to Manchester. Taxi to London City airport, fly to Manchester (40mins) taxi to office. If there were any delays, and often there were (planes late etc), well that was on company time. Coming home, I would take taxi to Stockport train station and get the Virgin train to Euston. The plane was marginally quicker, but more likely to be delayed, and the train is a more pleasant way to travel.

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