Soaring’s Soapbox – Train Fares: Why make it so difficult?

Soaring Worldwide creative director Adam Baggs lets loose on the rising cost of train fares and the negative environmental impact it is having.

I am an environmentalist and have been for most of my life. When I left school, I worked with the world’s rarest whales, undertaking research and I’ve seen how we can all work to improve the environment, work against climate change and do our bit for the sake of the world as a whole.

However now I find myself in a challenging position commercially.

Last week, as a company, we had to go to London and were only given a few days notice so there was no opportunity to book cheap rail fares a long time in advance. Peak time, for three of us, would have been £390 and it seemed an insane amount of money to spend. The alternative was for all three of us to go in one car and drive which would cost £30 to £40 in petrol, parking etc plus a short stint on the underground. The commercial argument and benefits are hard to beat with such a big difference in cost.

Environmentally the difference is huge though – at least I think it is.  Psychologically it certainly seems big to me – it just feels bad for the environment. We get into the car, we drive, we sit in traffic with the engine running and we are pouring out fumes. It just doesn’t feel right compared to sitting on a train, shared by others and making use of a service that is “going that way anyway”.  We can also of course use that time more effectively to work. Ok – I know some people will suggest a more environmentally friendly car – mine is not perfect but hardly one of the worst on the road.  However, the disposal of my current vehicle and the manufacture of a new one would rather outweigh its efficiency levels.

The whole situation drives me up the wall and yet, commercially, it is really the only viable option when you’re talking of a substantial cost difference. There is no comparison to be made.

We have achieved a situation at Soaring Worldwide where, every Monday morning, we discuss where people are going and whether it’s more effective to go by car and that, for me, feels like a step back.  In the past we assumed all travel was by train now it is reaching a point where that is going to only be possible where just one person is traveling. We are taught that a sustainable business considers the environmental, social and economic elements of each decision – this situation clearly has one battling against another.  It is driving me nuts and clearly says that something is wrong with the calculation of rail fares and how we are set up as a country to deal with the environment and efficient traveling.