New UK train travel platform promises to plant a tree for every booking | Rail travel

A new train ticketing platform launched today promises to plant a tree for every booking, which it hopes will appeal to climate-conscious passengers. Trainhugger says he will use 50 pence of every £ 1.50 booking fee to pay for a sapling, in partnership with the Royal Forest Society and Royal Scottish Forestry Society.

The website will sell the same UK routes and fares as other rail websites, such as Railway line, which charges an online booking fee of £ 80p-£ 1.75 per ticket (and an advance booking fee of £ 35p-£ 1.75, free on the day of travel). Passengers who book directly with a rail provider such as Southern or Virgin usually don’t pay a booking fee, but Trainhugger’s founders believe they’ll be able to earn enough business from rivals to bring a considerable contribution to the fight against climate change. They hope to plant 10 million trees by 2025.

“If the rail returns to where it was before the pandemic – 1.8 billion trips in 2019 – and Trainhugger sold 5% of those passenger trips, which would be 90 million bookings or 90 million trees, and we would match the government’s price target to plant 90-120 million trees (30,000 hectares) per year, ”said Felix Tanzer, company co-founder with Ed Caldecott.

Each 50 pence donation covers the cost of a “whip”, a tree shoot smaller than a sapling, but the costs of the land, as well as the planting and maintenance of the tree are covered by the costs. members of the RFS, including his own three forests and other landowners. The type of tree planted will be appropriate for the location. “We don’t plant Sitka spruce because it’s not good for biodiversity,” Caldecott said.

Although Trainhugger and its Android and iOS apps officially launched today, passengers can book through the site since the end of October. It has already taken 25,000 reservations, or 25,000 trees, the first being planted in the RFS Hockeridge and Pancake Woods in Buckinghamshire.

The site uses a third party reservation and payment system – Retail on track – and says it will offer the same rates as other sites.

Passengers who check in get a checking account of the number of trees they have personally paid for and can find out about the farmers who plant them.

Caldecott and Tanzer originally planned to launch a rewards program similar to Airmiles for train travel, which would be called Trainmiles, but said it “quickly seemed very ’90s, like something Branson would do, and not something something our generation would care about. And what do we care about? Climate change. “

They think passengers will be ready to switch platforms because there is so little choice in the market and because many rail companies have a bad branding due to their association with delays and roadworks. engineering.

“We can talk to our customers about positive things. Your commute may be devilish, but at least you’ve planted 60 trees. It’s about feeling good when traveling, ”said Tanzer.

Even if Rail travel recovered to only about 40% of pre-Covid levels, Tanzer said changes in work and travel habits could benefit the program. “People who had a season ticket but now only travel once a week buy individual tickets, which means they will plant a tree on each trip. “

Restrictions on overseas travel, a growing awareness of the carbon footprint, a new appreciation of UK stays and the current high cost of gasoline are all believed to be helping to increase the popularity of train travel in the United Kingdom. UK in the future, he added.

The website joins other recent innovations in sustainable transport in the UK, including Lumo, FirstGroup’s new all-electric rail service, which connects London King’s Cross and Edinburgh and was launched in October, and Karshare, a community car-sharing service that allows drivers to rent vehicles from individuals in five cities.

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