Skip to main content

5 Rail Industry Trends That Impact Business Travel Today

Five trends in the rail industry for business travel

6 min
Posted: 26 January 2023

Travelling by train is not just for commuters, but also for business trips. It can also be more economical, comfortable and sustainable. Read on to discover the five trends dominating the rail industry today.

1.) Travelling by rail for business is making a comeback

Train or plane? Trains could start to beat planes for short business trips, and with sustainable corporate travel on the rise, train travel is rising in popularity. Research conducted in the UK by Trainline found that 80 percent of business travellers thought that rail would be a preferable mode of travel, and 45 percent of business travellers think their employer could do more to promote rail options.

Even though rail is often associated with slow travel, employees can work remotely on the train and avoid the lines at the airport. Once you factor in all the wait times you’ll experience as part of air travel, if a business destination is within 300 miles, it will be faster for a corporate traveller to take the train than it would be to fly. In addition, booking a train ticket is a much more cost-effective way for businesses to get their employees to their destinations than car hire or short-haul flights.

2.) The rail industry is becoming more sustainable on a global level

Rail transport is estimated to be 12 times more energy-efficient than air transport. In 2023, major rail lines will continue to lead as the most sustainable travel choice by switching to electric locomotives. Every battery locomotive that replaces a diesel engine will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3,000 tons per year. Below is a summary of how the rail industry across the world is investing in greener technology.

In Europe, the electrification of the rail network has been a major focus with the aim of achieving net-zero emissions from the transport sector by 2050. Expect new high-speed trains and the development of new technologies such as the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which allows rail traffic to be monitored in real-time.

In the United States, the train industry has been slower to adopt sustainability initiatives, but there are several efforts underway to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. In fact, in 2021, Amtrak, the national rail service, sourced 51% of its electricity from carbon-free sources.

In the United Kingdom, the government is making strides towards creating a more sustainable rail system that’s better for the environment, more efficient and cost-effective and a better overall experience for passengers. The UK rail system is one of the oldest in the world and has been in operation since 1825. Over the years, it has grown and evolved but hasn’t kept up with the times. There is a serious effort in place to make the system more sustainable. Check out how you can save time with new UK rail eTickets in the Egencia app.

In Canada, railroad companies are updating and improving existing rail lines. These upgrades will help the rail system run more efficiently and reduce the amount of energy used. Additionally, the government has proposed new high-speed rail lines that will reduce travel times, and as a result lower the amount of energy used. The proposal includes new trains dedicated to tracks between major centres such as Quebec City, Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto.

In Asia, the adoption of new major high-speed rail lines crowns the continent as the global leader in the development of sustainable rail systems. For instance, Japan is the first country to develop magnetic levitation (maglev) trains, which have been proven to be faster and more efficient than traditional train systems. This has enabled the country to reduce emissions and energy consumption while providing fast and reliable transportation services.

Given these global trends, rail has the strength to position itself as one of the preferred choices of transportation of the future. Corporate travel programmes that encourage business travellers to travel by rail will be able to reduce their CO2 emissions at a higher rate. Learn more about Egencia’s new Rail and Sustainability features here.

3.) Train strikes will continue to disrupt corporate travel

Rail strikes can cause delays and cancellations, which can make it difficult for employees to travel to and from work. This can lead to a loss of productivity and can cause significant disruption to businesses. It’s important to have a finger on the pulse about happenings in the rail industry as well as up-to-date information to avoid rail strikes.

Rail strikes or industrial actions are typically in response to labour disputes over wages for rail workers, paid sick days, working conditions and job security. At the start of 2023, some of London’s biggest stations experienced  a rail shutdown due to a national rail strike. Train strikes have occurred recently in countries across the European Union such as France, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands.

The United States narrowly avoided a colossal rail strike in December 2022. The U.S. Senate voted 80 to 15 to impose a tentative contract deal with a dozen rail unions preventing a strike that would have cost the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion a day, and stranded millions of rail passengers.

We will likely see more strike days globally. It’s essential that your travel programme is prepared to guide corporate travellers and provide up-to-date information on the status of train routes.

4.) A greater focus on customer satisfaction

When train companies are running ‘business as usual’, passengers can expect more options for a better customer experience. The rail industry is becoming more visionary and wants to put the passenger experience front and centre of its operations.

Train companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) for personalised customer experiences. AI can provide improvements such as fast and convenient ticket-free check-in, accurate arrival-time predictions, personalised information, onboard services and rapid response in an emergency.

With faster speeds, Wi-Fi, more amenities and better customer service, business travellers can now enjoy a more comfortable and convenient journey. Enhancing the customer experience in the passenger rail industry is a priority, and there will continue to be opportunities to leverage digital technology across each experience of the customer journey.

5.) Corporate travellers should start to feel safer at train stations

Advancements in technology have improved security measures for railway infrastructure. Railway companies are responsible for both physical security and cybersecurity in the operations and maintenance of railways.

Business travellers should feel safer at train stations due to the adoption of security tools that go beyond video surveillance. For example, AI tools can track the number of people visiting a railway facility and those entering, exiting or loitering around in restricted access areas. Some train stations in Asia have implemented biometrics to identify suspicious individuals, and facial recognition technology to identify potential threats before they become serious.

Railway cyber security technologies are growing the most in Europe and Asia. Major railroads are investing heavily in cybersecurity technologies to protect their networks from malicious actors. This includes the use of firewalls, intrusion detection systems and encryption technologies to protect sensitive information from unauthorised access. Machine learning algorithms can be used to detect anomalies in the data collected by the sensors and detect any malicious activities before they become a problem.

How to better support your business travellers who travel by train

It’s time to simplify the process of booking train travel. Whether you’re looking for ways to increase the sustainability of your travel programme or hoping to reduce the amount of lost productivity at airports, travelling by train is an excellent option for your corporate travellers.

With Egencia’s powerful tools, travellers can search for the best train fares, book tickets and store ticket information in their personal accounts. Travellers can easily search for the best fares and book tickets in a few clicks. The platform also allows travellers to save payment details and access their itinerary information in one place. This makes it easy to keep track of upcoming trips and make changes if needed.

Was this content helpful?

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with us.