Why should I choose rail travel over car?

There are many reasons to choose rail travel - it’s usually more direct, quicker and more comfortable.

But it’s also a great choice for the planet – with greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre by rail being far less than cars*. Only cycling and walking are better for the environment!

With everyone trying to do their bit to cut their carbon footprint and create a healthier future, stepping onto a Greater Anglia train instead of getting in the car is a great way to get started.

Here’s why:

We’re introducing a fleet of brand-new trains that are greener than ever before

All of our existing diesel trains in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have been replaced with “bi-mode” trains which can switch between diesel and electric power. The diesel engine meets the latest, tighter, standards for emissions and is also quieter than existing diesel engines.

When the bi-mode trains are running underneath an electric line, they can switch to electric mode and take advantage of electric energy rather than diesel.

As with other modern electric trains, energy created when braking under an electric line is put back into the overhead wires to be used by other trains to accelerate – further helping to save energy.

Even in diesel mode, the trains can brake electrically by using a “brake resistor”, which means there are less brake pads used so less dust is produced and released into the environment.

When running in diesel mode, the engines generate electricity for the motors enabling the train to accelerate more powerfully and smoothly.

The train’s design is also future proof allowing possible upgrades to full electric operation or even use of battery storage.

We’re replacing all our electric trains too with brand new modern electric trains. We have already replaced all our old slam-door intercity trains with brand new trains made by Swiss manufacturer, Stadler on our Norwich-London Liverpool Street route. From this summer, this model will also go into passenger service on our Stansted Express London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport service. The aerodynamic front and special lightweight construction improves efficiency when the train is travelling at 100mph. The trains do not need to run at full power to keep to the timetable, due to highly efficient and powerful motorisation - a great energy saving feature.

The rest of our electric trains are also being replaced with new trains – made by UK manufacturer Bombardier. They are lighter than the trains they will be replacing and, in common with the Stadler trains, they feature regenerative braking which delivers energy back into the electrical supply network rather than waste the energy, through heat, as conventional brake systems do. The Stadler electric trains can actually generate more electricity when braking than they use while accelerating.

If every seat on our new trains was full, that would replace nearly 59,000 car trips a day.

This would prevent 11 tonnes of CO2 per kilometre being released into the atmosphere (based on the CO2 emissions of a medium sized petrol car)**.

One full new Intercity train takes 494 cars off the roads per journey and, once they are all introduced, they will do 75 journeys in total a day***, providing capacity equivalent to 37,000 cars.

One of our new four carriage bi-mode trains removes 152 cars and one of our three carriage bi-mode trains removes 111. Together these trains do 306 journeys per day, providing capacity equivalent to at least 21,900 cars.

In total, these 381 services per day will release a total of 4.34 tonnes of CO2 per kilometre – a 60% decrease in emissions overall compared to cars moving the same amount of people.

And this will improve even further as we start to introduce our brand commuter trains in Essex and Hertfordshire too.

What’s more, heading into a town or city by rail helps reduce congestion and the harmful pollution caused by thousands of exhausts - and means you won’t be gridlocked in traffic or waste time queuing for a car park.

If you’re heading out into East Anglia’s countryside or coast, leaving the car at home helps to protect our vulnerable habitats and ecosystems from harmful pollution and contaminants.

We’re going further to help tackle climate change

We recycle everything we can and we offer water refill points at many stations which have prevented over 250,000 single use plastic bottles ending up in landfill or the sea over the last two years.

Many of our rail stations are becoming wildlife havens through the establishment of wildflower gardens. A recent report by BugLife found that railways are vital corridors that help support all kinds of insect and small invertebrate populations.

We’ve also been upgrading our stations with more energy-efficient lighting, heating and materials to ensure that precious energy and resources aren’t wasted unnecessarily.

For anyone thinking of making some small changes to their lifestyle to help tackle climate change, making the switch from rail to car is a small step with a big impact.

Find out more about our progress towards becoming more sustainable by reading our first Environment & Energy Annual Report

Sources

Notes on calculations:

  • Medium size petrol car emits 0.19 kg CO2 per km
  • National rail emits 0.04 kg CO2 per passenger per km
  • To calculate how many cars the train removes from the road – number of train seats divided by 1.55 (the number of people on average in one a car – see source above)
  • To calculate emissions by tonnes per km of 58000 cars - 58000 x 0.19 then divide total by 1000
  • To calculate emissions by tonnes per km of 381 trains – first calculate how many people the trains can carry as a total per day (108,627 using the lower bi-mode capacity figure) – 108,627 x 0.04 then divide total by 1000 to get tonnes per km