A Christmas Tradition – Slow Travel!

Hey there avid reader! Long time no see!

(I mean, sorry Mum for not posting in the last 11 months…)

I thought to revisit the issue of costs of my Christmas train game as I am again taking the slow way ‘home’ for Christmas this year (maybe it’s a tradition!). Although Christmas 2015 will probably be in Australia…


Cambridge to Arendal 2013

I wrote in November last year that my approximate travel costs were about £200, as I hadn’t finished booking my trip. I also neglected to summarise any environmental winnings from this journey relative to taking the plane.

So to close the chapter on that journey, I’ve summarised all my costs and approximate CO2 emissions below (converted to Nov. 2013 pounds). To refresh your memory I made the journey part of the destination and stayed with friends in Brussels, Kiel and Copenhagen.

Cambridge internal (Citi plusbus): £2.05 /0.4kg

Cambridge – London (Greater Anglia train): £7.90/6.0kg

London internal (Transport for London – Underground): £2.20/0.07kg

London – Brussels – Cologne – Hamburg – Kiel (Eurostar/Deutsche Bahn train): £94.67/40.8kg

Kiel – Lubeck – Puttgarden – Copenhagen (Deutsche Bahn train): £41.05/19.4kg

Copenhagen – Hjørring – Hirtshals (DSB train): £52.28/23.9kg

Hirtshals – Kristiansand (Colorline ferry): £19.27/23.8kg

Kristiansand – Arendal (private car – fully occupied!): £0 (for me)/3.2kg

TOTAL: £219.42/117.5kg


Continue reading below to see how this compares to the air travel alternative from London to Stavanger.

The ‘direct’ plane option with Norwegian Air Shuttle (London Gatwick to Stavanger Sola):

Cambridge internal (Citi plusbus): £2.05 /0.4kg

Cambridge – Gatwick Airport (First Capital Connect train): £20.95/6.0kg

London Gatwick – Stavanger Sola (Norwegian plane): £56.90 (+13.90 baggage)/221.7kg

Stavanger Sola – Arendal (private car – fully occupied): £0 /15.75kg

TOTAL: £93.80/247.2kg


Cost vs CO2

Now given a price of €18 per tonne of CO2 (a price that the Finnish use), we can very quickly realise that actually the cost vs CO2 battle is the the most one-sided fight we’ve ever seen (probably similar to Tonga trying to invade the USA – hypothetically).

Looking only at these two factors, cost is the clear winner here. But the carbon price doesn’t prevent the CO2 coming out the back of the plane, and it may well not capture it back either. Whilst I’m fighting for Tonga by arguing this, I try to look at the benefit of not releasing the 130kg CO2 that makes up the difference between these two travel plans.

It seems like a good idea to offset carbon emissions and take the flight, and based on how cheap it is, anyone with just a little bit of concern for the environment should probably do it right? I had an inkling that this was not so, and demonstrated it in a post last year about the acceptance and awareness of carbon offsets among my classmates/friends studying sustainability (4 of 50 surveyed had offset more than half of their flying emissions).

I will continue to look into the failure of carbon offsets in future posts, but to finish my post without such heavy-hitting questions as the value of the 10000th released molecule of CO2, I have attached below the final part of my unfinished travel slide show from December last year. I got as far as the train from Copenhagen to Hjørring in my final post of the year, so this is the last stretch from Hjørring to Arendal.

The final train! Hjørring to Hirtshals.
The final train! Hjørring to Hirtshals.
Second and last ferry! Hirtshals to Kristiansand. I was lucky here because the ferry the day before was cancelled due to bad weather. Instead I got to enjoy a soothing 5m swell (relaxing!).
The rest of the same ferry. It was huge! Superspeed 1 is a Roll-On-Passenger (Ro-pax) ferry. So a mix of cargo and passengers. I think it had 5 casinos on board.
Ho ho ho! Arendal for Christmas (I didn’t take a picture of the car that got us there)


One thought on “A Christmas Tradition – Slow Travel!

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