Rail or Air?

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  • m_b88

    I am currently studying towards a BA(Hons) in organisational capability and development.

    I was hoping to get some feedback from the forum on your thoughts when choosing your travel options.

    For longer journey’s air will usually prevail however for shorter journeys rail comes out on top.

    But what about those journeys that are equal in terms of duration?

    What influences your decision to pick either mode of transport. Cost? Comfort? Reliability? Environmental concerns?

    Any of your thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated.

    Kind Regards


    Hello m_b88

    Much will depend on where a business traveller lives or works. Would a downtown train station be inconvenient if one is located near an airport ?

    Nowadays matters are more difficult to define because of flight shame.

    These pieces with reference to the UK and mainline Europe may help you.

    London-Glasgow air travel decreases in favour of rail journeys

    ‘Flight shame’ could lead Flybe to cut domestic routes

    Switzerland expands international rail

    TGV Lyria capitalises on ‘flight shame’


    It is indeed a complex equation. I live in a city centre, well deserved by rail and air. A rational decision for me would be to travel by rail for journeys up to 3-4 hours, air when it is more. Then comes the other factors. Last week for instance I flew to Paris instead of taking a train because of the strikes affecting less the air than the rail. A couple of months ago, I flew to Zurich because my destination was next to the airport. So the rule doesn’t always apply.
    Now if I were to live far from an airport, train might well be a more common option. Accessibility to the mode of transport therefore plays an important role as well.


    Depending on options, I’d normally chose to fly.

    I have to travel to Middlesbrough in March from Aberdeen. I have 2 options:

    – Train from Aberdeen to Middlesbrough (2 changes, ~ 6hrs)
    – Fly ABZ to NCL (Choice of flybe or Loganair)

    I’ve gone with flying to NCL with Loganair and hiring a car. I’ve gone with Loganair as it’s a jet and well, March is a while away for flybe . .

    Flying takes less than an hour and I’ll rent a car, so I’ll get to Middlesbrough in around half the time and the cost difference is around £20-30 all in.

    I know flight shaming should probably make me consider the train but saving half the time getting there and back is the real winner for me


    Just found this article: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/trains-faster-than-flying showing some city to city examples.


    Why aren't (or can't) the train companies be cooperative…?

    Much of this has been discussed previously.


    Firstly welcome to the forum m_b88

    What influences your decision to pick either mode of transport. Cost? Comfort? Reliability? Environmental concerns?
    Any of your thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated.

    To answer your question, my company is anti-air travel unless absolutely necessary. They’re also cost conscious , which bizarrely is at odds with they’re first policy.

    Cost – Comfort
    In the UK it’s been my experience that the more you pay (first Class Excluded) the less likely you are to get a seat or at least a comfortable seat on the routes I travel. And some of them are long distance. Many a time, especially during the summer months I’ve stood from York all the way to Edinburgh, having paid in excess of £200 for the pleasure.
    I could have flown to Leeds /East midlands and Manchester for almost ½ the price and twice as quick.

    Actually the ECML is pretty good, however that’s about it. Unless you’re travelling off peak when I’m at work. Commuting home on TPE from Piccadilly to Waverly on a Friday night is akin to getting home to a 3rd world shanty town .

    My London commute is a classic to debate the air v rail argument .
    When I did it regularly , I could leave my West London Office as late as 17.30 . My driver would scoot along the A4 to LHR, I’d have time for a drink in the lounge and be airborne enjoying a drink with dinner. I’d be drin king with my pals in my local , normally no later than 9.00.
    If I was forced to stick to the company policy (no fly times – usually associated with us using our allocated anti green allowance) I’d have to leave the office at 3 , trek to Kings Cross and not get home to close to midnight. And again usually paying more and not in 1st class

    The company has relented when it comes to visiting my Cardiff office – It’s just a joke that it’s near nigh impossible to get there by train in less time than a full day’s work !!

    Environmental concerns
    I have to do a few presentations on this, and I’ve learnt that the overall impact is lessened if you look at the rail infrastructure as a whole and not just at point of use. Something greetin Greta hasn’t been told yet !!


    If I can travel by rail I will. From Lugano we are well served with trains to Rome, Nice, Frankfurt and Paris, though some do necessitate a change.
    Principal reasons:
    1. Lugano Airport was abandoned by Swiss
    2. Prefer trains due to less hassle re security, baggage etc
    3. If something goes wrong you don’t fall 35,000 feet 😉


    For me it comes down to cost and time. For example I am looking to go to Manchester next weekend. Train First class is more expensive than BA flight, I will fly. An hour more or less for a weekend away I am not bothered. I still prefer the plane on a Sunday as you are bound to landed with engineering works on railways, then the journey becomes a real pain.

    If this was for a commute. Then plane would be more effective as I live nearer Heathrow than Euston.

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