On my way to EMBL Heidelberg

Today I woke up and followed my usual routine. I caught the train from Rome to Monterotondo, albeit a bit earlier than usual. But my final goal was not to arrive at the lab – it was to make it to EMBL Heidelberg by hopping on a few more trains. As an EMBL PhD student, I have the chance to travel around the world to attend courses and present my research. But this great opportunity for my scientific and personal development comes with a price for the environment. Have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide (CO2) you’re putting in the air every time you take a plane? Each one-way plane trip to Heidelberg emits approximately 152 kg of CO2 and 640 g of nitrogen oxides. Flights produce greenhouse gases – mainly CO2 – from burning fuel. These contribute to global warming when released into the atmosphere. Planes release 2% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). By choosing to travel by train rather than plane today, I am emitting 74% less CO2 to the environment.

Graph obtained from EcoPassenger

Graph obtained from EcoPassenger

I had to take four trains: 1) Rome Tuscolana to Rome Tiburtina, 2) Tiburtina to Milano, 3) Milano to Karlsruhe, and 4) Karlsruhe to Heidelberg. The journey was 11 hours long, compared to the 7 hours it took me the last time I travelled to Heidelberg. In that case, I used three different modes of transport: 1) train from Rome Tuscolana to Fiumicino, 2) plane from Rome to Frankfurt, and 3) bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg.

Trains are more spacious than planes, and they normally have WiFi. I was able to work on my laptop (when I wasn’t being distracted by the gorgeous landscape as I travelled through Tuscany and across the Alps). What about the price? Booking six weeks in advance, the total price one way was under 120 euros.

Image by Irene Pilar Ayuso Jimeno

In summary, I absolutely advise all EMBL fellows and visitors travelling from Rome to Heidelberg to go by train.

· It doesn’t have to cost much more than going by plane + shuttle/taxi.

· It takes several more hours, but the logistics mean the time can be used to focus on work.

· You would reduce your carbon footprint, by emitting 74% less CO2 on your trip.

I hope this post will inspire you to consider travelling in a more environmentally friendly way on your future trips.

Cheers from EMBL Heidelberg!

Irene Ayuso

PhD student in the Gross Lab

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