Why train travel is hard to sell
Planning for a meeting the other week, I discovered that I simply couldn’t get there in time by train. The fact that driving also proved quicker, cheaper and easier shows rail travel in the UK still has a long way to go before it captures people’s imaginations.
At Polon, we don't fly on business and we use public transport whenever we can. But the other week it proved impossible for me to take the train the 100 or so miles between Cheltenham and Chirk in time to make a 9.30am meeting.
And according to National Rail, my train ticket would have cost £54.50 return. Hiring a small car from Enterprise (I don't own one) costs just £22.64. Even allowing for fuel, that's still cheaper.
At just over two hours, the car journey was also a bit quicker than the train. It was certainly easier. But, here's the downside: Transport Direct's journey planner estimates that my journey in the small car produced around 20kg of CO2. My train journey would have emitted half that amount.
Selling train travel
So how can we encourage people to take this lower-emission option when it's often so inconvenient, and frequently more expensive? As a copywriter, I'd find that a tough one to sell.
You could emphasise the other benefits of train travel. It's relaxing (when things go well). It can be cost-effective (with the right ticket options). And you can work, eat, drink or sleep as you clatter through the countryside.
But unless you fix the underlying problems that put people off, they're never going to love the train like they love their cars.