Coach Or Train – Which Is Better For A Long Distance Trip?

A few weeks ago I wrote about a long-distance tripQuestion mark red 3D glossy I had to make at short notice while also doing a lot of work requiring concerted concentration.

That post looked at the most popular options for that trip : plane or car.

But there are other options : coach and train.  How do they stack up?  Here I give you my assessment of them…and which option I chose for my quick 470km-as-the-crow-flies trip to Melbourne.


The price of a single adult coach ticket from Canberra to Melbourne is about $80-$90 – about the same as driving.

The big difference is that you don’t need to actually do the driving.  Which means you can sleep, or read, or listen to audio…

That’s why long-distance coach travel is a favourite with students.

And travelling by coach results in just over half (56%) the emissions of greenhouse gases compared with travelling by plane or car.  In other words, if you travel by plane or car you generate nearly twice the emissions (0.18-0.19 tonnes CO2e per person each way)[1] than if you travel by coach (0.1 tonnes CO2-equivalent per person each way).[2]


  • travelling by coach takes about 9 hours…about the same as travelling by car (assuming you take the required rest breaks)
  • apart from possible quick meal break at Albury or the Dog on the Tuckerbox [link] (not all services stop) and the odd trip to the on-board toilet, you can’t really get up and move around…unless you count a walk up and down the narrow aisle that’s less than 12 m long as moving around 😉
  • you are stuck in one narrow seat, without much leg room, access to any comforts, food and conveniences other than what you brought on board in your hand bag

As someone on a related forum has said, ‘9 hours on a bus is just a killer’.

And that’s why it can be pretty difficult to do concentrated creative work.


Travelling by train, however, is very different.

For a start, there’s just more space:

  • in the aisles
  • around your feet
  • under the seat
  • nearby for your luggage

That means that you can spread out a bit…and you can access your gear during the trip.:)

And if you travel first class, you have even more room.  And more room again if you travel in a cabin (day) or sleeper (night).

As well, you have access to a table top – just like on a plane…which means you don’t have to balance everything on your knees.

The real comfort crunch-point is that on a train you can get up and stretch your legs – properly. 🙂

  • You can check out what’s available in the buffet or what each of the carriages is like.
  • You can walk from one end of the train to the other if you want.
  • Perhaps just want to stand at the end of the carriage, exercise your balance, maybe having a chat or making a phone call.

And you don’t need to worry that you didn’t have time to pack food, drinks, or entertainment – or you forgot them. 😉  You can buy them at the buffet pretty much any of the time during the trip – without stopping.

And there’s more than one toilet. 😉

All this makes for a much more comfortable journey than car or coach.

And that makes for a journey more conducive to concentrated creative work.

And work you can – from the moment you hop on board.  In my case, that’s a bit over 7 hours.  (The whole journey takes about 9 hours, but I have just over an hour on a coach at the Canberra end.)

That’s at least 7 hours more productive time than travelling by road (coach or car) and 5 ½ hours more than travelling by air.

And the cost is much the same as travelling by road.

The deal-breaker, though, is the greenhouse gas emissions.  At 0.05* tonnes CO2-e per person each way, me travelling by train results in less than 1/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions than travelling by car or plane, and ½ that of travelling by coach.[3]

So, to me, it’s a no-brainer.

And here is my office for the trip:

Train seat set up for office work

What do you think about the personal and environmental sustainability of travelling long distances by coach or train?  Leave your comments in the Reply box below …or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!