A new report from the Independent Transport Commission has shown some major changes in travel patterns within the UK. More people are switching to rail and people under 35 have reduced miles driven.
Interestingly, the report shows that "The number of trips English residents are making per person has fallen by 15% between 1995 and 2014. However, the average trip distance (all modes) has increased by 10% and the average trip time by almost 15%."
So, why is this important for our industry? The sustainability / environmental benefits will be significant, but for me there are two more interesting factors; the impact on business travel and agile working, and the impact on the design of cities and infrastructure in the UK.
Seeing people under 35 moving away from cars should be a sign to business that they need to think in a more agile way about how people work
I'm a massive advocate of train travel for business... in fact I'm writing this insight as I travel down to London for a day of meetings.
I consider generally that every hour I spend travelling by car is lost time. I can't carry out research, learn, or move forward any of my projects. Train travel for me is one of my secrets to upping my productivity, and I'm very fortunate to live within driving distance of three major train lines running North to South, and one running East to West. Armed with a laptop and a mobile phone I can happily work away as I travel to my destination.
With more and more people working on the move, businesses need to move away from the mindset of needing staff to be in the office, at a fixed desk, 9-5, and instead need to ensure the IT and support provided to their teams means they're as efficient working on the train, in a client's office, in an airport waiting room etc as they would be in the office.
Access to affordable and easy to book train travel is also paramount, which is why I feel very fortunate that we have a access to a travel booking service to make my life easier and let me focus on my work, not worrying which ticketing option might save me £20 here or there.
A younger generation moving away from cars needs to be factored into long term infrastructure planning
Many of the infrastructure decisions being made today won't be built for 5 years, 10 years or even longer. With HS2 at the extreme of this example, many of the link road upgrades, rail improvement programmes and airport expansions across the UK are still years in the making as they make their way through the planning and decision making treacle that slows their path to completion.
Long term infrastructure planning is always a challenge, I don't envy those who make that their career path, but studies like this will hopefully inspire more flexible planning and strategy, allowing for major changes in travel patterns, and ensuring the UK keeps moving and agile.
Dr Niblett [Dr Matthew Niblett, director of the ITC] said: "We are seeing that the historic correlations between incomes, costs and travel are weakening. An inter-generational divide in travel behaviour is growing. "For young adults, cars are increasingly viewed as utilitarian appliances, rather than aspirational goods. And there are also growing differences in travel patterns between rural and urban areas."