By David Frangeul, Managing Consultant
It’s time to fully integrate high-speed rail (HSR) in your business travel program. From the travel manager’s perspective, rail combines three key elements of a successful travel program: attractive pricing, an effective mode of transportation, and a sustainable footprint. In 2021 and beyond, we expect to see high-speed rail quickly becoming a key player in most global business travel programs – the industry is expected to grow 40% by just 2030. In Europe, the combined effect of rail market liberalization and legislative measures in favor of train travel (i.e. a tax cut for rail in Germany, and the discontinuation of air routes when the train trip duration is below 2.5 hours in France) should give a significant boost to rail travel in the region.
By including rail into your travel policies, you will initiate a multi-modal approach that is more in line with your travelers’ needs, and that will generate additional environmental and financial savings. Of course, the scope of high-speed rail coverage is largely limited to short-distance trips. The competition on these shorter routes between HSR and air has been tested in many places, all over the world. As a result, market share can be accurately predicted – where rail travel time is less than three and a half hours, rail is the dominant mode of transportation. If you have significant domestic travel activity in Europe, Asia, and even in parts of the USA, you should consider the added value of high-speed rail.
Here are the three reasons why high-speed rail will gain more traction in your program in the near future.
- Sustainability: rail is a key driver to reduce carbon footprints
- Savings: competitive high-speed rail can compete with air in new markets
- Safety, comfort, and productivity: drives traveler productivity and fulfills duty of care
Sustainable Collaboration: Using rail to reduce carbon footprint
Sustainable development is one of the main challenges facing the world today and is especially challenging for the transportation and travel sectors. High-speed rail has an important role to play in reducing the overall environmental impact of business travel. Even if we include the indirect CO2 emissions related to rail travel’s infrastructure construction, energy transformation, and rolling stock manufacturing, HSR is still more environmentally friendly than other modes of transformation. Taking a train is 20 times more carbon efficient than flying and integrating rail options in your supplier mix will go a long way in contributing to your organization’s overall sustainability initiatives.
Savings: Increase competition to add negotiation leverage
Integrating rail into your supplier mix will also increase the competition in your program. In general, high-speed rail pricing is very competitive. For example, the average rail fare in intra-Europe for Advito clients is 25% lower than average airfares on comparable routes. By bringing this new competition into your program, airlines will have to adjust their pricing proposals to remain competitive for your business. It’s easy to see why soliciting some rail suppliers in an RFP can bring additional savings to your program. It creates stronger leverage to negotiate better deals with airlines and rail suppliers alike.
Traveler well-being: The best combination of speed and productivity
High-speed rail travel offers one big benefit to business travels: increased productivity time. The ability to spend their time being productive is much higher with rail when compared to both flying and driving. On a short-haul trip (under 1,000 km), productivity time represents two-thirds of the total trip duration (vs. one-third with a plane and one-fifth with a car).
Fast boarding times, limited security delays, and no waiting for baggage adds up to much less time spent getting to and from meetings. HSR delivers fast, efficient transportation so travelers can spend less time “traveling” and more time working, recharging, or other activities that are important to them. Rail travel has a lot more to offer in terms of traveler well-being vs. air and car (less stress, more comfort).
High-speed rail is set to be the future of short-haul business trips, and it can bring a lot of value to your travel program in the form of increased sustainability, savings, and traveler satisfaction. In our next blog post, we’ll cover what you need to do to fully integrate HSR into your travel program. Stay tuned!