Why I Choose the Train

ICE Train from Cologne to Brussels. Photo: Phil Richards, Creative Commons.
ICE Train from Cologne to Brussels. Photo: Phil Richards, Creative Commons.

Written by:
Per Becker, Professor, Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, LTH

Portrait Per Becker. Photo.

Taking the train when my work requires a visit to Stockholm is a matter of course. For this rather common trip, the university’s policy also states that we should take the train and not the plane, which should be completely obvious considering that a flight from Sturup-Bromma-Sturup has hundreds of times the climate impact (depending on the type of aircraft). And that’s not even counting transport to and from the airports, which alone has many times more climate impact than the entire train journey. This is for a time saving of 20-30 minutes door to door for me taking the airport bus. I also prefer four hours of undisturbed working time (or good sleep if I take the night train) than hopping around between airport buses and cramped aircraft seats where at least I, with my 185cm, cannot get a good working position. No, it’s easy to do the right thing sometimes. Something that I think all university employees should try to do if we want the public to have confidence in our scientifically based proposals on how they should contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I personally prefer to take the train long distance up the country as well. If you combine a night train and an express train, you can cover a very large part of Sweden without a painful backside. For example, I have written large parts of many recent publications on the trains between Lund and Östersund where I spent some time in recent years (a night train + a fast train or a fast train + a night train). Maybe not everyone likes a change of scenery, but for me, who also takes the opportunity to change scenery when I have writing days in Lund, trains, cafés and other temporary places give a creative boost.

If you are like me and have time for research or other tasks that can be carried out anywhere, it also works perfectly well to take the train a bit down in Europe. Even though the long-awaited night train from Malmö to Brussels did not materialise, it is possible to take the train there if you are as focused on protecting our children’s future as I am. However, it is a real full day with three changes (Copenhagen, Hamburg, Cologne I usually take). Last time I was writing an application and modelling social networks on the way down and working on an article on the way home. I got a lot done but I have to admit that I was quite tired after 13 hours regardless of the short stops at restaurants and cafes at the stations along the way. Next time I am thinking of taking the night train Lund-Hamburg to have only two changes and a more normal working day on the way to Brussels.

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