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It’s time business travel embraced “train-bragging”

April 13, 2023


By Liz Emmott
Global Distribution Director at Trainline Partner Solutions

Are you a “train-bragger”? If you travel regularly for business, you may already be one – and if you are a corporate travel manager, you will certainly want more of your colleagues to be one, according to Liz Emmott, Global Distribution Director at Trainline Partner Solutions.

Train-bragging is a concept we have been promoting at Trainline recently, as part of our ongoing sustainability campaign, I Came by Train. A more positive notion than simply forcing behavioral change through flight-shaming, the idea behind train-bragging is that rail should be seen as something that is worn as a badge of honor, and that travellers should take pride in using the train.

We’re looking to support a real and growing appetite for sustainable travel. Earlier this year, a Trainline survey of British business travellers found two-thirds were concerned about their own personal carbon footprint of business-related travel in 2022, 72% wanted to make more of their trips using lower-carbon modes of travel this year and 78% said sustainability would be an important consideration for them when deciding on their business travel needs this year.

There are also a range of policy levers that UK and European governments are pulling to encourage more sustainable travel, from France’s much-discussed ban on domestic flights when a rail alternative exists, to the increased obligations on businesses in many countries to monitor and report on the carbon footprint of their operations.

Rail travel is also changing, with the growing liberalisation of Europe’s rail industry seeing new operators entering the market to compete with incumbent carriers on both price and quality. Seven of the ten busiest routes in Europe now have competition between carriers.

The longest-standing competition has existed on the Rome-Milan route, which over a decade saw the average price for rail travellers reduce by 40%, rail double its modal share on the route to 75%, and conversely aviation’s modal share fall from 50% to less than 20%. Now other routes are poised to see similar benefits – Barcelona-Madrid for example has been transformed in the past 18 months and now has four different carriers competing, each developing a competitive offer geared towards their own target market.

Plus rail travel offers business travellers wider benefits beyond reducing their carbon footprint. Research we undertook last autumn found more than eight out of ten UK business travellers said maintaining productivity during their journey is important to them. Here rail has a natural advantage over both driving and flying, even if the door-to-door journey isn’t always quicker.

Most work is impossible to combine with safe driving, while the stop-start nature of air travel doesn’t lend itself to dedicated working time. More reliable access to WiFi, a more comfortable physical environment for work, and less waiting around were among the top reasons cited by survey respondents for travelling by rail instead of by road or air.

All this explains why we are keen to make it simple for business travellers to compare their rail options and buy tickets, whatever journey they are making across Europe. We’ve partnered with CWT, and other players in the business travel market, to streamline and integrate business travel by rail and remove another barrier preventing business travellers from choosing the train.

Because the train-braggers are arriving soon, at a platform near you, and we want to support them.


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