23 February 2023 at 16:09 (GMT) Download PDF

-          Trainline’s new Reasonable by Rail research reveals up to 75% of journeys can be faster, cheaper, or both if booked in advance to secure the cheapest available price

-          New cross-industry White Paper published exploring how the rail and tech sectors can encourage consumers to choose rail and travel more sustainably

Making rail travel inspirational, creating the notion of “train bragging”, and highlighting key routes where train travel can be faster or cheaper than cars or planes would support travellers to be more sustainable, according to a new report commissioned by Trainline as part of the cross-industry I Came By Train movement.

Analysis by Trainline of 250,000 different popular UK journeys shows that train offers the fastest and/or cheapest mode of travel compared with driving or flying in the majority of cases, if travellers are encouraged to make cost-saving decisions.

This Reasonable by Rail research shows:

-          75% of journeys are cheaper of faster if travellers book in advance to secure the cheapest available price for the journey

-          64% of trips would be cheaper or faster if a Railcard discount is applied to the average price paid for the journey

-          “Hero” routes which should be championed to encourage modal shift include:

o   London to Manchester, which is over an hour quicker by train than flying and £15 cheaper on average with a railcard

o   Manchester to Glasgow, which is an hour quicker than driving and £10 cheaper on average – or £24 with a railcard discount

o   Edinburgh to Newcastle, which is 90 minutes quicker than taking the car and £15 cheaper on average with a railcard

o   Bradford to London, which on average is 1hr27 quicker and £13 cheaper by train instead of driving

The White Paper has been compiled through the contributions of 16 experts from across the travel and transport industry, and was launched today at an event in London attended by Rail Minister Huw Merriman and more than 120 rail, sustainability and tech sector stakeholders.

Other suggested ideas in the White Paper include developing inspirational cross-industry messaging that emphasises how switching a journey to rail reduces a traveller’s carbon footprint; collaborating with the tech sector to give rail options more prominence in travel apps because they make journeys more sustainable; and considering incentives to support sustainable travel such as a “Green Railcard” that rewards frequent use.

Sustainability can be rail’s secret weapon for creating growth, but to inspire travellers to choose rail, we must appeal to both their hearts and their heads. Creating a mass movement from car and air to rail should be a national mission, and that mission will succeed best through a coalition of activity that harnesses our collective power, skill and innovation.

Trainline is passionate about sustainability, but collectively we all have work to do to address the public’s general lack of awareness about the green benefits of travelling by train. We want to work with the Government, the wider rail industry and the tech sector to address this gap in understanding, and help make rail famous for being green.

Trainline CEO Jody Ford


Travelling by rail by is already one of the most sustainable forms of transport, and the sector has a great opportunity to be at heart of an integrated, sustainable transport network. To realise this prize, rail must continue to adapt and up the pace of innovation, with cost and convenience the watchwords to win the hearts and minds of customers.

CBI UK Chief Policy Director Matthew Fell

I Came By Train is such an important initiative, at a critical time. As the climate crisis becomes more pressing, and with many communities and households facing day-to-day challenges at the moment, we need to ensure everyone can benefit from sustainable, inclusive transport, reducing traffic, and enabling far more journeys to be made by public transport. I’m proud to be part of a campaign raising awareness of how rail – combined with buses, community transport, walking, wheeling and cycling – is a major part of the solution to the environmental and socio-economic crises we face, central to a greener, better future.

This ground-breaking report shows how the rail industry can engage with communities, existing and potential passengers and partners across transport and government to support modal shift and lead the way to a sustainable transport future. We hope you’ll add your voice to the debate and join us on this exciting journey.

Community Rail Network CEO Jools Townsend

The White Paper is the latest element in the I Came By Train campaign, which started in October with the commission of ‘Better Days (I came by train)’, a new song and accompanying video by British singer-songwriter Craig David to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of rail. The campaign has also been supported by outdoor creative including murals and light projections across the country. 

The full White Paper published today is available here.

Notes to Editors

-          Full methodology for the Reasonable by Rail data is available is included in Annex A of the White Paper. As an overview:

o   Rail travel data: Analysts explored booking data from Trainline over the past year (September 2021 – October 2022), including hundreds of thousands of individual bookings and over 250,000 individual routes in the UK. This is excluding buses, coaches, first class and youth tickets. We are focusing on single passenger travel.

o   Road travel data: We used the Google Matrix API to determine average driving duration. Data was captured September 2022 – October 2022

o   Air travel data: Used the quickest flight time between airports, including 90 minutes check in for domestic flights. We included the time to travel to the airport to make comparable with the city centre travel for train and car, and since airports are rarely close for those travelling from them, unlike private cars and train station networks. We have used the time by car as the mode of transport.

About Trainline   

Trainline is the leading independent rail and coach travel platform selling rail and coach tickets to millions of travellers worldwide. Via our highly rated website and mobile app, people can seamlessly search, book and manage their journeys all in one place. We bring together millions of routes, fares and journey times from more than 270 rail and coach carriers across 45 countries. We offer our customers the best value for their journey and smart, real-time travel information on the go. Our aim is to make rail and coach travel easier and more accessible, encouraging people to make more environmentally sustainable travel choices.