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How to attract people to greener travel? Digital services are part of the answer

Travel by train? It saves ⅔ of CO2 emissions and allows operators to diversify their revenues Electric trains are the heroes of green travel. How can digital experience get people aboard?

The latest reports confirmed that railways produce less pollution than travel by car or airplane. Making the trains attractive to passengers can help us generate less CO2 emissions and make public transport more sustainable. How big is the carbon footprint of transport? How much CO2 can you save by opting for a train? And how to attract more passengers to public transport through digital services? Let’s find out.

The slim carbon footprint of public transport

The data reveals surprising patterns. While CO2 emissions in the EU are steadily increasing, railway emissions continue to decline. CO2 emissions produced by trains are taking only 0.5 % of the total

On the other hand, the aviation sector keeps producing more and more tons of CO2 despite the dramatic 58% drop caused by covid-related restrictions. In the forecast, the EU plans to transfer passengers from planes and roads to railways. And despite higher numbers of passengers, railway emissions should stay more or less the same.


Source: EEA


So, which transport is the most friendly to nature? It’s electric trains! Based on the data model by BBC using BEIS/Defra Greenhouse gas conversion factors emissions per passenger per kilometer of Eurostar trains can go as low as 6 grams. On the other side of the spectrum, domestic flights produce 133 grams of CO2 plus 121 grams of non-CO2 emissions generated in high altitudes. 

We only advise not to use these numbers to generalize as trains may significantly vary from each other. There are many factors to take into account, like train type, number of passengers and the characteristics of the specific line.

Heroes of sustainable travel are trains and long-distance coaches. These means of transport produce minimum emissions, and in the case of electric trains, they create them where energy is generated, not along the journey. And this makes electric trains the perfect choice for rare natural areas.

Some railway operators offer compensation programs that channel part of their revenues into sustainable emission offset projects supporting the construction of renewable energy sources or planting forests. This activity makes traveling by train literally net zero.


Source: BBC

The journey from London to Madrid

Let’s check one example, showing how much emissions can train save. The airline distance from London to Madrid is 1,262 kilometers. If traveling by plane, the overall CO2 emissions ramp up to 118 kg, according to BBC. By choosing a train, two-thirds of this amount can be saved, as the emissions generated on this journey stops at 43 kg, without any non-CO2 emissions to add up.

Source: BBC


The only thing where a plane wins is speed. Air travel takes only a little over five hours, while you spend almost 14 hours onboard a train. However, these hours can be productive and fun!

More productive, more fun and more sustainable

Trains have changed over the span of the last decade. Nowadays, the railway market is undergoing the process of liberalisation with more and more carriers competing among themselves, as well as with other modes of transport. To attract passengers onboard public transport and get a competitive edge, operators started to offer stable high-speed internet connection accompanied by a wide range of digital services. This way, passengers can utilize hours on the train to do productive work as well as relax and entertain themselves using an onboard infotainment platform. 

At the same time, the operators get their hands on a new source of customer data and a new communication platform that they can monetize to gain additional revenue from their digital services. Deploying hardware onboard and paying for mobile data doesn’t have to be a pure expense. Adding partner-sponsored content is very easy with the Passengera monetization platform, offering cross and up-sell products to passengers or additional services in their destination. Passengers get high-quality onboard connectivity and entertainment, operators gain auxiliary revenue. Everybody wins.

With the Green Deal and other environmental policies today, the digital experience is becoming a critical factor for the success of public transport in reaching ambitious goals to maintain sustainability. Making passengers replace cars and planes for buses and trains can’t happen without offering something extra.

Digital experience can help operators to become more resilient toward shifts in passengers' preferences as they diversify their revenue. And passengers can enjoy most of the time on board, stay entertained or productive and effortlessly order additional services. Train cars offer enough room for work on laptops, much more than planes ever will, so enabling people to make the extra time worthwhile is the biggest challenge ahead of us.


Image by Freepik