Trains

Train vs car: The challenges ahead

Monday, December 6th, 2010 | News | No Comments

trains“Millions of commuters are likely to switch from trains to cars to avoid double-digit fare increases next month,” claimed the front page of the Metro this morning.

Bad news for the environment, if it’s true.

It’s important to point out that the story is based on a survey of people reporting what they WOULD do – a notoriously inaccurate reflection of what they actually WILL do.

That said, if rail fares do need to rise this much, then why are we letting rail companies and the government make them so much more expensive? Surely we’ve all got to the point by now that we need more rail travel. People want better trains and will pay for them: in recent votes in both California and Switzerland, people said that they were happy to pay more tax in order to fund better rail.

The train companies should also be doing more to market the other benefits of using the train rather than the car, for example the ability to do work while you’re on the move. (We’ve talked before about how rail companies could promote the journey itself.)

And finally, car sharing. If we are priced off trains, let’s at least be intelligent about how we use cars – by car-sharing as much as possible. Employers can do a lot here, such as helping employees who live near each other to connect; and councils can do a lot to run ‘find a car-share’ schemes as well.

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