London-Paris and London-Brussels flights generate ten times more carbon dioxide emissions than Eurostar

2 Oct 2006

Date: 2 October 2006
London-Paris and London-Brussels flights generate ten times more carbon dioxide emissions than Eurostar
Findings of independent research make 41 percent of travellers 'much more likely' to take the train
Poll shows 39 percent of people changing their travel habits due to worries about climate change
Passengers who fly between London, Paris and Brussels generate ten times more emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than travellers who go by rail, according to detailed independent research commissioned by Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train operator that links the UK, France and Belgium.
When asked for their reaction to the difference in CO2 emissions between flying and going by rail, a separate YouGov poll of 1,019 people across Britain reveals that four out of ten (41%) travellers say they are 'much more likely to take the train'.
The research shows that each passenger on a return flight between London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle generates 122 kilograms of CO2, compared with just 11 kilograms for a traveller on a London-Paris return journey by train.
A round trip between London Heathrow and Brussels airport generates 160 kg of CO2 per passenger, against only 18 kg of CO2 for a return journey by rail.
The figures are the most detailed ever produced and are based on actual passenger numbers, exact distances of rail and air routes, actual aircraft types in use on different routes, and the mix of electricity sources used by Eurostar trains.
The research was carried out by a consortium of Paul Watkiss Associates and AEA Technology Environment. It uses detailed data on electricity supplies, power station emissions and transmission losses; Eurostar and airline load factors; and the range of aircraft and engine types and emissions.
The YouGov poll reveals that four out of ten (39%) people have changed their travel habits in some way due to worries about climate change, including 3% of people who have stopped flying and 6% who have reduced the amount they fly. More than half (54%) say they are more concerned about the environmental impact of flying than they were five years ago.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said:
"The research shows that travelling by Eurostar is less environmentally damaging than flying by a factor of ten. A Eurostar passenger generates enough CO2 to fill a Mini, while an airline passenger generates enough to fill a double-decker bus.
"Business passengers and leisure travellers are increasingly demanding factual information about the environmental impact of their travel plans, and what they can do to reduce emissions of gases which are causing climate change.
"The research provides people with an informed choice. The poll demonstrates what we are already seeing, which is a growing switch to Eurostar as people become more environmentally aware."
The calculation that travelling by air is ten times more environmentally damaging than going by Eurostar is in fact conservative. The research points out that the additional environmental impact of the CO2 emitted during the high-altitude cruising section of London-Paris and London-Brussels flights further increases the disadvantage of short-haul air. The extra fuel burnt when aircraft are delayed in holding patterns also increases CO2 emissions.
The completion of the UK's first high-speed line in autumn 2007, with 186mph trains cutting journey times between London, Paris and Brussels by 20 minutes, will make the environmental advantages of Eurostar even more attractive to passengers.
The new line from St Pancras International will plug the UK into the growing high-speed rail network across the continent, further boosting train travel as an attractive option for business and leisure journeys.
The research also shows that travelling by high-speed rail will generate even less CO2 per passenger in future years, due to increased supplies of renewable energy and UK policies to reduce CO2 emissions.
Editor's Notes:1. Eurostar is the high-speed passenger train service linking London, Ashford, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Avignon, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris and the French Alps.2. In September 2006, Eurostar won the title of "World's Leading Rail Service" at the World Travel Awards for the ninth consecutive year.3. In autumn 2007, with the opening of the UK high-speed line between London St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel, journey times will be reduced by 20 minutes. London - Paris will be 2hrs 15mins, London - Brussels will be 1hr 51mins and London - Lille 1hr 20mins.4. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are two entirely different companies with two different management teams. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's largest customer.5. To book tickets for Eurostar, or to find out more information, go to www.eurostar.com , call 08705 186186 or contact your travel agent.For more information:Eurostar Press Office, +44 (0)20 7922 4494, press.office@eurostar.co.uk