Transform Scotland - For Sustainable Transport

Search pages

24 October 2012

New report challenges business to try the train

'On track for business' sets out economic benefits of switching from air to rail

Transform Scotland has today (Wednesday 24th) published the new report, 'On track for business: Why Scottish businesses should try the train', which sets out the economic benefits available to Scottish businesses in switching from air travel to rail travel, and challenges Scottish business to save money and benefit the environment by using the train for business travel between Edinburgh and London.

The report compares air and rail business travel for business on the Edinburgh-London route, and concludes that rail travel is a superior product to air, with key selling points of:

* Better value for money
* High-quality working environment
* More relaxing travel experience
* Superior environmental performance.  

'On track for business' also reports on the progress made by major Scottish businesses RBS and SSE in switching from air to rail. The report calls for Scottish businesses and public sector bodies to actively switch their Edinburgh-London business travel from plane to train.

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

"Our report makes a compelling case to Scottish business of the financial and productivity benefits of using the train for business travel to and from London. It is welcome to see the progress already made by key Scottish companies such as SSE and RBS in switching from air to rail, but many more companies need to follow their lead."

"The financial benefit of making an Edinburgh-London return journey amounts to £217, including the value of productive working time and other benefits. Given that the price of a 'Scottish Executive' ticket, which gives first class return travel from Edinburgh and London, is only £229, it's clear that greater account needs to be taken of the financial benefits of rail travel and not just the ticket price.

"Our challenge to Scottish business is to try the train. Given that it's generally cheaper and provides a productive working environment, Scottish businesses can gain financially by switching many more of their employees' trips on to rail for Edinburgh to London journeys."

Report author David Spaven said:

"The train beats flying for business travel to London. It offers a high quality working environment, superior environmental performance and, crucially, better value for money. Unless a company's sole criterion for choice of transport is journey time, air shouldn't be treated as an automatic preference over rail.

"East Coast have introduced a wide range of major service improvements in the last few years, yet rail is carrying only 12% of Edinburgh-London business travel. The time is clearly right for many more businesses to 'try the train' and experience directly the benefits which rail can deliver.

"There's no doubt that a majority of businesses could save money and improve productivity by switching to rail. As well as the direct business benefits, the substantially lower emissions associated with rail travel mean that businesses can improve their sustainability performance."

Transform Scotland is also holding a Scottish Parliamentary reception on Wednesday evening, hosted by Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi. At the event, report author David Spaven will present key findings from the report to MSPs and key figures from Scottish business.

The full report (52pp) is available at <>.

The summary report (12pp) is available at <>.


Notes to Editors

[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national sustainable transport alliance, bringing together rail, bus and shipping operators, local authorities, national environment and conservation groups, businesses  and local transport groups - see <> for details.

[2] Key benefits of rail use for business travel on Edinburgh-London route:

* Price: Trains compete strongly on cost, with 81% of flights between Edinburgh and London being beaten by a cheaper East Cost rail alternative, and with no extras, booking fee or cost of travel into the city centre.

* Productivity: A highly effective and high quality, working environment -- similar to a business lounge -- with Wi-Fi, power points, and quiet work space.

* Environment: Train travel is vastly more sustainable. Train travel between London and Edinburgh results in approximately 27kg of greenhouse gas emissions (kgCO2e) per passenger, compared to 84kg by air.

* Punctuality: Rail punctuality rates are higher than airlines (87.9% of trains on time vs. 82.6% of flights) on Edinburgh-London routes.

* Seamless: No queues, no waiting, no stress.

* Quality catering: Complimentary food and drink service.