In yesterday's New York Times, Ron Nixon wrote about the trend that we have been echoing for as long as we've been in business: the increasing stresses of air travel, combined with the convenience and accessibility of rail travel is pushing consumers to choose rail over air - in this example, particularly in the North East Corridor.
The statistics in the article I find particularly telling:
"Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train, a huge share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000 and airport security was tightened after 2001. Before that, Amtrak had just over a third of the business between New York and Washington.
In the same period, Amtrak said, its market share between New York and Boston grew to 54 percent from 20 percent."
The article helps highlights the four key factors that we see as critical to the choice of taking the train over flying:
- Convenient - trains will tend to take you from city-center to city-center (or downtown to downtown, depending on your terminology preference!) and there are no queues and hassles around airport security. Particularly for business travel between cities, these are critical considerations.
- Productive - many of the high-speed trains across North America and Europe now have wifi on board (although as the article notes, the Acela's can be a bit spotty). That being said, you have a seat, generally with decent space at a table for a laptop, no restrictions about their usage around take off and landing, mobile coverage throughout. Taking the New York to Boston route as an example, they don't let you power up electronic devices at all on that flight anymore. On Amtrak, you have a solid three hours of productive time, rather than 2 hours of waiting in line.
- Environmentally friendly - Research has shown that train travel produces approximately 90% less carbon emissions than flying, and over 70% less than travelling by car.
- Comfortable - Standard class seats on trains are roughly equivalent to first class ones on planes! Travelling on the ground, you just have a lot more space to get comfortable, move around, and watch the world go by.
We see this trend continuing, and particularly with the increased coverage of high speed rail across Europe, the eventual demise of short- and medium-haul air travel, with trains taking the bulk of the traffic for trips less than about 3.5 hours of train travel time! The train revolution is upon us!
Credit: the graphic above is taken from the New York Times article linked above.