Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.
54 hours one way to join a job meeting on Mallorca
anders [dot] ortegren [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se (Anders Örtegren)
- published 8 June 2023
Emma Kritzberg took the train to a meeting on Mallorca. A journey that took 54 hours and cost double what it would have to fly a couple of hours to the Mediterranean island. Yet, flying was never an option. She has not flown once for work or privately in the last six years, a conscious decision she took to reduce her carbon footprint.
Emma Kritzberg, professor at the Department of Biology, stepped on the train at Malmö Central Station at 23:25 on 5 March. After four changes, an unwelcome train strike in France that meant 12 hours on a bus, and the last stretch on a ferry, she landed in Mallorca on 8 March at 06:30 in the morning.
Three days later, she made the same journey but in the opposite direction. This time, minus the French train strike.
Why did you take the train?
“I decided in 2017 never to fly again. Since then, it’s been a choice between train or not going. Unfortunately, ferries emit almost as much as airplanes per passenger per kilometre, but at least the distance was radically shorter this way,” says Emma Kritzberg.
Even though the trip took 48 hours longer in each direction compared to flying, it did not mean more wasted time, she explains. The actual flight is one thing, but most people do not take into consideration the time spent getting to the airport, through airport security, and then all the waiting.
“I can’t work in those circumstances. I like travelling by train, it helps me think and I can work well, even if the effective time spent travelling is much longer.”
Emma Kritzberg explains that her work is mostly spent on the computer and that the Wi-Fi connection was good for many hours on the train to Spain.
“I also printed out some documents in advance, mostly because I find creative work easier with a pen and paper than on a small screen.”
Changing trains was not a problem either.
“It was nice to change along the way, actually. The stations are in city centres and I got to take a walk, eat and drink some nice things in Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Paris and Barcelona. It was wonderful! The night train timetable didn’t match the ferries particularly well, which meant that I got to spend quite a bit of time in Barcelona. A table in the sun at a café is an excellent office.”
Emma Kritzberg does not think there are any explicit downsides to taking the train abroad, at least not for those who can work effectively as they travel. The only negative was perhaps booking tickets for the portions abroad. This was complicated. The University’s current travel agency contract involves a separate booking fee for each ticket. To Mallorca and back, that meant over SEK 2,000 in booking fees alone.
“Unfortunately, the booking fees become an incentive for members of staff to choose air travel over the train if they are going far. I booked my trip through Centralens travel agency in Kalmar. They were excellent and a lot cheaper. Next time I will book myself as I now know the best route.”
Emma Kritzberg did not take part in the meeting digitally, as this time there was a requirement to be in situ. There is an ongoing discussion about what can be done to reduce emissions from travel in conjunction with future meetings.
“We are going to suggest that the climate impact be calculated for every conference. Once we have the data, we can think about what measures are needed. Perhaps hosting the meetings in a central location in relation to where the participants live, encouraging travel by train and maybe having more meetings online,” she says.
Should more people do as you have and take the train?
“Of course I hope that more people will question the unreflecting way we fly and make choices that chime with a green transition. Politicians and employers need to provide better conditions to make this transition, but social norms are also important,” Emma Kritzberg says.
21:14-09:06: Paris–La Tour de Carol, Enveitg*
10:25-13:45: La Tour de Carol, Enveitg–Barcelona
22:30-06:30: Ferry Barcelona–Palma de Mallorca
06:30: Arriving in Palma de Mallorca
*From Paris the journey was instead made by bus, 23:00 which arrived in Barcelona 11:00.
11:00-18:00: Ferry Palma de Mallorca–Barcelona
14:31-17:51: Barcelona–La Tour de Carol, Enveitg
18:50-06:50: La Tour de Carol, Enveitg–Paris
03:52: Back in Malmö
The price for the journey
Emma’s journey cost SEK 7,200.
By plane both ways: around SEK 3,000, plus a few hundred SEK for travel to and from the airport.
Emma’s trip: 125 kg CO2
By plane: 1,000 kg CO2 (including altitude effects)
The University’s travel policy
The University’s travel policy states that all travel for work is to be weighed again work environment, the environment and cost. Before planning a trip, all employees are to consider if the trip can be replaced by a digital meeting. If travelling is the best option, you are to plan it such that the impact on the environment is minimised. LU’s travel policy is available on the Staff Pages.
According to Lund University’s Sustainability Plan, one of the goals is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 50 per cent compared to 2018’s levels by the end of 2023.
Employees can book themselves
Due to the high booking fees for train travel abroad, an email has been sent out at the Department of Biology stating that employees who wish to travel by train to other countries are free to book themselves. Doing so means the employee has to pay themselves and request reimbursement after the fact. There is information about this on the Staff Pages. It says that if the University’s procured travel agency, BCD, cannot provide travel abroad by train then the employee may book tickets themselves by paying first and requesting reimbursement afterwards. This is under the proviso that the line manager has given their approval.
A new train travel agency for trips in Europe
The university has reached an agreement with the Danish train travel agency Togrejse. Togrejse can be used for booking train tickets to other European countries. The process of booking tickets will be easier and cheaper than it has been. The agreement with Togrejse started June 1. All flights, flight transfers, train rides in connection to flights and domestic train tickets are to booked as before, via BCD Travel. More information on staff pages.
The first edition of Lund University Magazine – LUM – was published 1968. Today, the magazine reaches all employees and almost as many people outside the university. The magazine is published six times a year. Editor Jan Olsson.