The Cost of Travel: Examining the Price Discrepancy Between Train and Airline Tickets

Alfred Tang

Hatched by Alfred Tang

Oct 20, 2023

4 min read


The Cost of Travel: Examining the Price Discrepancy Between Train and Airline Tickets


Travelling has become an integral part of our lives, allowing us to explore new destinations and connect with loved ones. However, the cost of travel can sometimes be a deterrent, with train tickets often being significantly more expensive than airline tickets. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this price discrepancy, exploring the environmental impact of aviation, the presence of polluting subsidies in the airline industry, and the interconnectedness of global trade networks and energy grids. Additionally, we will touch upon the personal implications of climate change and provide actionable advice to mitigate our carbon footprint.

The Environmental Impact of Aviation:

One of the primary reasons why train travel is more expensive than flying is the environmental impact of aviation. According to statistics, aviation accounts for about 3 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This alarming figure highlights the urgency to address the carbon footprint associated with air travel. As individuals, it is crucial to recognize the role we play in contributing to climate change and take steps to reduce our impact.

Polluting Subsidies in the Airline Industry:

Another factor contributing to the higher cost of train travel is the presence of polluting subsidies in the airline industry. These subsidies, often in the form of tax breaks and financial incentives, artificially lower the price of airline tickets, making them more affordable for consumers. However, this artificially low cost fails to account for the environmental consequences of flying, ultimately shifting the burden onto future generations. Addressing these subsidies and promoting more sustainable travel options is essential to creating a fair and environmentally responsible transportation system.

The Interconnectedness of Global Trade Networks and Energy Grids:

Understanding the complex nature of our global trade networks and energy grids is crucial when examining the cost disparity between train and airline tickets. Our world is interconnected in ways we often fail to realize. The transportation industry heavily relies on energy grids and trade networks to function efficiently. By considering the intricate web of connections that enable travel, we can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying factors contributing to the pricing of train and airline tickets.

The Personal Implications of Climate Change:

While the environmental impact of travel is a global concern, it is also deeply personal. Climate change affects each and every one of us, whether we realize it or not. As mentioned in the Crash Course Climate & Energy Preview video, it is a multitude of small actions, such as eating an entire box of mac and cheese in one sitting, that collectively contribute to the larger issue. Recognizing our individual responsibility and making conscious choices can propel us towards a more sustainable future.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Opt for Train Travel: Whenever possible, choose train travel over flying. Trains are generally more energy-efficient and produce fewer emissions compared to airplanes. By opting for trains, we can contribute to reducing our carbon footprint and supporting a greener transportation system.
  • 2. Offset Your Carbon Emissions: Many airlines offer carbon offset programs that allow passengers to compensate for their flight's carbon emissions. Consider participating in these programs to mitigate the environmental impact of air travel. Additionally, explore other carbon offset initiatives that support renewable energy projects or reforestation efforts.
  • 3. Embrace Sustainable Lifestyle Choices: Beyond travel, our daily habits significantly impact the environment. Make conscious choices such as reducing energy consumption, embracing public transportation, and supporting eco-friendly products. Small changes in our lifestyle can have a substantial collective impact on the planet.


The price discrepancy between train and airline tickets is a multifaceted issue, intertwining environmental concerns, polluting subsidies, and global trade networks. While the cost of train travel may be higher, it is essential to recognize the environmental benefits and long-term sustainability it offers. By understanding our individual role in climate change and taking actionable steps to reduce our carbon footprint, we can contribute to a more equitable and environmentally responsible transportation system. Together, let us embark on a journey towards a greener future.

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