Taking care of the environment can be a good idea for more reasons than one. More fuel-efficient cars cost less to run. Better buildings insulation means lower heating bills. Energy-saving light bulbs save on electricity costs. Notice a trend? Yes, an increasingly common concept is that what’s good for the environment is also good for your wallet.
Taking the train is four times more energy-efficient than driving. In other words, by driving to your client site you emit four times more CO2 than you would by taking the train. Business travel is our second-largest emissions source (after electricity for our buildings, and our data centres in particular). Since our environmental objectives include a 30% reduction in our travel-related carbon footprint by 2014, this is clearly a pertinent issue.
By the same logic as above, you would hope that we’d also save money by choosing train over car. A quick look at the figures substantially disproves this assertion, at least for the UK, and for longish journeys. The table below compares the cost of taking the train to the cost of driving for a number of journeys common for. Note that except for the London – Woking trip, driving works out significantly cheaper – around 40% on average.
Note: the figures for the car columns are taken from the AA website, and based on a car purchased new for £14,000 and driven for 20,000 miles a year, which would cost around 33.28p per mile to run. This includes insurance, tax, maintenance, depreciation, parking and fuel.
So although far better for the environment – as well as being quicker and more productive – taking the train is more expensive than driving for most of us. Given the benefits of using the train over driving, one might think that the higher cost is in fact justified. However there is a conflict, since although we are all working towards improving the environment, the current economic climate creates certain cost-cutting imperatives.