Here is some good news… there are many things we can do to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle, such as switching to renewable energy, recycling, and adding insulation to our homes. And our travel choices have a big impact too. While living without a car is the most effective way to lower your carbon footprint, swapping a flight for a train journey comes in at a strong second. That may seem hard to believe (the stats surprised us too), but cars and planes create 74% of Europe’s transport CO2 emissions, whereas the entire rail network adds up to less than 1%.[1]

Now that we're a bit more acquainted with some of the stats, let’s break it down a bit more, so it actually makes sense.

What is CO2 exactly? And in a way that is easy to understand…

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a chemical compound that when released into the atmosphere becomes a greenhouse gas. And while it makes up less than 1% of the atmosphere, the increased amount of CO2 in the air means that it is keeping the planet warmer than it should be.

Remember how hot and sweaty people were during last summer's record-breaking heatwave in the UK? Given the prolonged levels of heat, it should be easy for humans to understand how uncomfortable our planet must feel after 100 years of rising temperatures.

How have humans contributed to climate change?

For most of human civilisation we managed to have a good handle on keeping greenhouse emissions at bay. Though we must admit we got too eager during the Industrial Revolution and our increased activity ever since has produced higher levels of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2.

This trapped energy in the atmosphere is what is warming the planet. According to NASA, it’s not just the atmosphere that has been affected. The ocean has also absorbed this heat impacting acidity levels that cause this delicate ecosystem to go out of balance.

What is your carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) generated by the lifestyle and actions of an individual or organisation. It’s easy to make a sustainable impact on your individual carbon footprint by incorporating lifestyle changes into your routine, such as relying on more plant-based foods, switching to renewable energy, and swapping a short-haul flight for a train journey instead. Another green traveller fact, did you know travelling by train instead of a plane creates 7x less CO2[2]. So, swapping to train is one of the biggest changes you can make to your carbon footprint.

How big is the average person's carbon footprint in the UK?

According to Pawprint, an eco ally that helps businesses make more sustainable choices, the average Briton’s carbon footprint is roughly around 12.7 tonnes CO2e per year[3]. But again, what do these numbers mean? They put together some pretty nifty comparisons of what this amount of CO2 looks like in the real world.

  1. Your heating would need to be going full blast for 80 days straight 
  2. You would need to drive 23,000 miles in the average car to emit 12.7 tonnes of CO2e, which is once around the world
  3. You’d have to eat over 1,000 beef steaks or 4,100 camemberts[4]

Wondering how to travel green?

We know that not all journeys can happen by train, but for the trips closer to home you can still make a positive impact by swapping just one UK journey from flight or car to rail. Want to dive into the numbers yourself? Find out just how much carbon you could be saving on your next swap with our train journey calculator

Swap to train and save the planet one journey at a time

Swapping a car or plane journey with a train is one of the single best things you can do to lower your carbon footprint, and we think that’s pretty amazing.

So, join us in moving just one journey a year you would otherwise have taken by car or plane, to rail.

Pledge a journey


See the Facts

See for the facts

[1] Emission calculations based on approximate figures taken from the EEA Transport and Environment Report 2021 published on 1 June 2022, p18

[2] Calculations are based on CO2 / passenger km using statistics and conversion factors published in the government’s greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors published 2 June 2021 and revised in January 2022. Plane = Domestic flight with radiative forcing 0.24455 kg CO2/passenger km

Car = average petrol car 0.17363 kg CO2/km / 1.5 (average passenger loading for petrol cars based on DFT statistical data set for vehicle mileage and occupancy) = 0.1157533 kg CO₂/passenger km

Train = National Rail 0.0351 kg CO2/passenger km

[3] See

[4] See