Switch to sustainable travel

Choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport can significantly reduce the impacts of travel and these sustainable options don’t necessarily have to take more time, or cost more. This can apply equally to local, UK domestic and even international travel.

Local travel

Most travel between University sites and elsewhere in Bristol for meetings etc should be possible either on foot, by bike or by bus:

If local travel by car or van is unavoidable (e.g. when transporting bulky equipment between University buildings), staff should follow the fleet hierarchy to decide which type of vehicle to use. 

UK domestic travel

Rail booked through the University’s contracted travel supplier should be the preferred option for all journeys beyond the Bristol area within mainland Britain.  

Going by train removes the strain of long-distance driving and might not take much longer door-to-door than a domestic flight, allowing for the time needed for check-in, boarding and airport transfers.

University policy allows first class rail travel for journeys over three hours where the intention is to work for the duration of the train journey, making travel time more productive. 

Combined with cheaper advance fares available through the University’s travel supplier, rail travel quickly becomes more competitive in terms of overall cost relative to both driving and flying.

And it’s worth remembering that even if your destination isn’t close to a railway station, booking a hire car at the other end can make taking the train most of the way the obvious choice. 

If going by car is unavoidable or demonstrably cheaper than rail (for example if you’re carrying bulky equipment or travelling as a group), staff should use the fleet hierarchy (see below) to decide which type of vehicle to use. 

Choosing the right vehicle

The first choice if you need to drive on University business should always be to use an existing departmental pool vehicle.  

If a suitable pool vehicle isn’t available, renting a vehicle through the University’s contracted provider Enterprise should be the next option. 

Enterprise offers a car club option which is most cost-effective for journeys of up to around 100 miles within a single working day. Vehicles are available at dedicated on-street car club bays around Bristol, including several close to the main Clifton campus, and in other cities around the UK.

For longer journeys or overnight, hiring a vehicle is the preferred option. With delivery and pick-up from home or work address, renting is every bit as convenient as using a private car. Enterprise offer a range of commercial vehicles for hire in addition to cars and vans, but larger minibuses may be hired through other approved suppliers.


Anyone driving under the University’s motor insurance cover (including in a vehicle hired through Enterprise Rent-a-Car) requires an authorisation to drive from their department. Additional requirements apply to staff using their own vehicles for work-related journeys. Visit the motor insurance motor insurance page of the University website for further information.

International travel

Despite the availability of cheap air travel, rail remains a viable choice for reaching many destinations in northern Europe. 

Eurostar has direct services from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Amsterdam and Rotterdam with connections to around 100 other European destinations. With arrivals at city centre stations, door-to-door travel time by train may compare well with flying, especially from any London airport. 

University policy allows first class rail for journeys over three hours, so the value of the time spent working in comfort on the train could make the total journey cost competitive when compared with flying (especially if the time and money spent getting to, from and through the airport is taken into account). 

For destinations beyond northern Europe, air travel remains the most viable option, unless time and budget constraints allow for more adventurous choices. If flying is unavoidable, air travellers are encouraged to limit their carbon footprint through their choice of fare class, route and airline. 

Whether by rail or air, all international business travel should be booked through the University’s contracted travel provider which can advise on the best options for saving time, money and carbon emissions.