When a student at the Saarland University Of Applied Sciences stated that the plane was the best way to go to London, her geography lecturer Werner Ried, unconvinced, proposed to compare both journeys – by train and by plane – for real… The actual race took place on June 15: two teams, one going by train, the other via a low-cost airline. The journey started at St. Ingbert (Saarland, Germany), and the destination: London Piccadilly Circus.
The purpose was not just to find out which transport mode went faster. The competing students had chosen five comparison points:
- booking possibilities
- environmental impact
These criteria show a willingness to take into account the overall impact of travel and to carry out a global and objective comparison.
The results clearly favour train travel. Once the teams tallied their results, rail bested air clearly on travel time (6h 25min vs. 6h 45min by plane), price (€101,58 per person vs. €105,96 by plane), and environmental impact (only 22kg/person of CO2 rejection by train against 144kg/person by plane1). However, on this specific route, air prevailed regarding comfort and above all booking service; however, even the comfort difference between both modes was not that obvious: students agreed to qualify the services aboard the train as “convincing”, and confessed the advantage of plane regarding loudness or stress factor was very thin.