Environmentally-conscious Scots travellers face paying up to 70% more to travel by train than plane.

A new investigation examining the cost of flying compared to taking the train on the same dates on 10 popular routes across the UK reveals it costs £73 more to travel from Edinburgh to Bournemouth by train (£178) than by plane (£105).

Consumers are now advised to do their homework if they want to cut their carbon footprint while travelling across the UK by researching the cheapest and fastest way to travel by train, through taking advantage of advance booking,the railcards, and other money-saving tricks such as split-ticketing.

Meanwhile the Glasgow to London return by train was £26 more expensive - costing £77 by rail and £51 by air.

Of the five Scottish routes examined none made it more economical to go by train.

A London to Edinburgh return was just £7 more expensive by train, costing £79 by air and £86 by rail.

The probe by the consumer organisation Which? compared 10 popular routes across the UK for return train and flight fares for the 5th and 8th of August.


Flight prices were checked using Skyscanner and train prices were checked using Trainline and excluded booking fees.

It found that flying creates up to six times as many carbon emissions as taking the train, meaning travellers are faced with a "near impossible trade-off" between low fares and reducing their carbon footprint.

The research comes as airlines launch dozens more domestic routes in response to more people holidaying in the UK this year.

The snapshot investigation found that in eight instances it was more expensive to take the train, costing 49 per cent more on average than flying, and one train route costing more than two and a half times the cost of flying.

The biggest difference in price was found for a return journey from Birmingham to Newquay, with a flight costing £67 and a train journey on the same dates costing £180 – an increase of 169 per cent.

The train route Which? looked at also involved making two changes and, including the return journey, would take more than 10 hours longer than flying in total.

However, flying this route would emit more than five times as much CO2, creating an average of 156kg of CO2 emissions per person. In comparison, taking the train would emit around 27kg of CO2 per person.

All of the carbon emissions on the flight routes the researchers checked were more than five times the amount created by taking the corresponding train route, with some flight routes emitting more than six times as much carbon.

The biggest difference in carbon emissions was on the Bristol to Newcastle route, with the flight route emitting more than six times the amount of carbon compared to the train route.

The flight routes with the highest carbon emissions were Edinburgh to Bournemouth and Glasgow to Southampton, at 287kg of CO2 per person each.

While taking a return trip by train from Edinburgh to Bournemouth would only emit 52kg of CO2 per person – around a fifth of the emissions created by flying – the journey would cost £70 more than flying and take 14 hours longer.

While the difference in price between flying and taking the train from Glasgow to Southampton was only £28 though, and would save 238kg of CO2 per person.

Rory Boland, Which travel editor said: “As the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty for international travel, many of us are taking holidays closer to home this year. Travellers who choose to take the train face significantly higher fares and journey times, putting those who want to lessen their environmental impact at a disadvantage.

“There are steps that people can take to reduce the cost of travelling by train. Take the time to compare dates and times to see if cheaper fares are available, and look into what railcards you might be eligible for to save up to a third on train travel. You may be able to make further savings by checking if split-ticketing is an option on your chosen route.”


Travel firms have said that bookings to amber list countries have taken off following the announcement fully vaccinated passengers in England will not need to quarantine upon their return.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs on Thursday that UK holidaymakers who have received two jabs from the NHS will no longer be required to self-isolate for 10 days on their return to England from destinations on the amber list.

Travel firm Skyscanner said 30 minutes after the announcement, the agency saw a 53% increase in traffic from the UK compared to the same time on Wednesday.

Scotland has the power to set its own quarantine rules and yesterday (Tuesday) came into alignment with England.

Quarantine will no longer be required for passengers arriving from countries on the amber list into Scotland as long as they have had two Covid vaccines.

Fully vaccinated people arriving in Scotland from amber list destinations will no longer need to quarantine from July 19.

However, travellers must also still take a PCR test on day two of their arrival back to Scotland.

Currently, people in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales are only allowed to travel to a small number of countries on the green list without the need to self-isolate upon their return.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Taking the train is one of the greenest ways to travel, which is why we’re pushing for government to adopt a ‘polluter pays’ approach to transport taxes, unlike the zero duty on fuel for planes compared to the 40% tax on electricity to power trains. We also want to work with government to reform the fares system, making it simpler to use and easier to get a good deal.”

“Rail fare levels are ultimately a decision for government, but people looking for a cheaper ticket can travel off-peak, book Advance fares or take advantage of great railcard discounts.”

A Trainline spokesman said : “Our data shows that train travellers can save up 61% on their tickets by booking in advance. In combination with digital railcards in our app which provide a third off the price of many journeys, plus features such as Trainline’s SplitSave, which finds clever combinations of tickets to save you money on most routes across the UK, the cost of train tickets can be significantly reduced.

"Transport is the largest contributor to UK domestic greenhouse gas emissions which means that collectively, how we choose to travel can have a big impact on the environment. We aim to make it as easy as possible for our customers to get the best value on their train tickets so they are encouraged to make greener travel choices.”