Eurostar launches climate change plan to make high-speed rail greener still

17 Apr 2007

--Carbon dioxide emissions to be cut by 25 percent per traveller journey by 2012
--Ten-point plan to reduce environmental impact of Eurostar operations
--From 14 November 2007, world's first train operator to make all journeys 'carbon neutral'
Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service between the UK and the Continent, today unveiled plans to make high-speed rail an even greener option for short-haul travel in northern Europe.
Speaking today, Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown announced a target of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 25 percent per traveller journey by 2012; the CO2 impact of a Eurostar rail journey between London and Paris or Brussels is already at least 10 times less than the equivalent journey by plane.
Eurostar will further cut CO2 emissions per traveller journey by reducing the power consumption on its rolling stock, making even better use of train capacity, and sourcing more electricity from lower emission generators.
Richard Brown said: "We don't have all the answers but we do know that a high-speed rail journey is 10 times greener than flying – and that Eurostar can be greener still. People want to minimise their carbon footprint on the environment, and our aim is to help passengers tread lightly when they travel.
"It is time for the transport industry to do more to tackle climate change, instead of claiming that it makes a minimal contribution to global warming, or simply blaming other industry sectors. Over the next five to 10 years, everyone will be seeking to change how they travel. Making greener journeys on High Speed 1, connecting with other high-speed rail services across Europe, will be a vital part of the solution."
Friends of the Earth executive director Tony Juniper said: "It's great news that Eurostar is leading the way in the travel industry with its initiative to cut passengers' carbon emissions by actually making a real reduction rather than just offsetting. It's easy for travellers to go green by opting for the train instead of taking short-haul flights. If all the passengers who currently fly between London, Paris and Brussels went by train instead of plane, it would cut CO2 emissions by over 200,000 tonnes – more than the annual CO2 emissions from all homes in Oxford."
Results for the first quarter of 2007, also published today, show a 14 per cent increase in business passengers. In addition, the number of leisure travellers buying connecting tickets for onward journeys to the south of France is up 39 per cent compared with last year.
Richard Brown said: "We are genuinely surprised and pleased at these big rises in both business travel and connecting leisure journeys. The increases are strong evidence that environmentally aware travellers are already voting with their feet."
In addition to the CO2 reduction target, Eurostar's Tread Lightly Initiative includes a 10-point plan to minimise the environmental impact of all its operations by cutting the consumption of raw materials, sourcing responsibly and recycling more waste.
Eurostar has also announced that from 14 November 2007, when it launches 23-25 minute shorter journeys from its new central London terminal at St Pancras International, it will become the world's first rail service – and the world's largest mass transport operator - to go 'carbon neutral'.
Where Eurostar cannot eliminate CO2 emissions, it will invest in offsetting schemes as a last resort to ensure that every traveller's journey is carbon neutral. Eurostar will work with a number of environmental organisations to deliver transparent, effective and appropriate offsetting schemes.
Richard Brown added: "Unlike other transport operators, who ask passengers to volunteer to offset CO2 emissions at their own expense, we will bear the cost of making every journey carbon neutral – we will not charge a penny extra."
Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose commented: "In M&S we have an expression, that doing nothing is not an option. That's why we put together our eco plan, Plan A - so called because there is no Plan B. I'm delighted to endorse what Eurostar is doing as I feel that it is a plan for the future. We will encourage our staff to use rail rather than planes for short-haul journeys."Transport 2000 executive director Stephen Joseph commented: "Already, travellers are voting with their feet and deserting planes for trains where they have the option. In five years' time, it will be socially unacceptable to fly short-haul in Europe where rail offers the greener option. Eurostar's plan to cut CO2 emissions per journey by 25 per cent goes beyond anything the airlines are doing. It sets a transport industry benchmark that will help travellers make the behaviour change that is needed to reduce climate change."Forum for the Future's Business Programme founder director Jonathon Porritt commented: "It's great to see Eurostar's clear ambitions to set the standard for sustainable travel. It's a smart business move to be fit for a low carbon future and help your customers do the same. Forum for the Future is looking forward to working in partnership with Eurostar to help them realise their ambitions and continue to pioneer ways to help people, the planet, and profits."The Tread Lightly InitiativeThis initiative is an ambitious and demanding programme that will require close working with suppliers, contractors and partners; and that will take three to five years to implement across Eurostar's three countries of operation.
Eurostar will achieve a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger journey by 2012 by:• Installing energy meters on trains to help drivers drive as economically as possible• Fitting new controls for train lighting, heating and air-conditioning to reduce power consumption• Working with suppliers, particularly Eurotunnel and Network Rail, to source cleaner electricity supplies• Making even better use of train capacity• Designing energy efficiency into the mid-life re-engineering of the train fleet
Whilst CO2 emissions from generating the electricity that powers the trains are overwhelmingly Eurostar's largest environmental impact, the business is also committing to a 10-point plan to reduce all other impacts.
The plan is based on three principles governing the use of materials and supplies: reduce usage wherever possible, source supplies responsibly, and recycle what is used or produced. It includes:
• Separating, sorting and recycling all on-board waste, including food waste, by the most appropriate methods
• Replacing train air-conditioning refrigerants with the less environmentally damaging chemical R134a by 2008 – seven years before the EU deadline
• Helping travellers reduce CO2 emissions when accessing Eurostar services by providing journey planner information and ticket sales for public transport options, and developing new travel initiatives and partnerships
• Sorting and recycling waste from stations, offices and the Temple Mills maintenance depot, with the goal of zero disposal to landfill; and with 80 per cent of waste to be recycled by 2009
• Ensuring that lighting, heating and mechanical plant at stations, depots and offices are as energy efficient as possible; developing a 'switch-off' culture; and procuring electricity from greener sources of energy
• Reusing water from train-washing at the new Temple Mills maintenance depot, and investing in rainwater collection to further reduce consumption
• Reducing paper usage by switching to e-tickets and bar code ticketing downloaded to mobile phones; undertaking direct marketing via email and web-based information; and where paper is unavoidable, sourcing from sustainable forests or recycled paper, and recycling all used paper
• Ensuring on-board disposable items (e.g. cups, plates, napkins) are either biodegradable (made from maize extract) or fully recyclable
• Refurbishing or de-branding and recycling used staff uniforms
• Sourcing on-train food from local sources in UK, France or Belgium wherever available, including organic suppliers, or Fairtrade for overseas supplies
A comprehensive environmental audit of the business is currently underway, to check that all impacts are being addressed. Eurostar will continue to set fresh and further targets across its operations, and will review and report on progress annually.
Editor's Notes:1. Eurostar is the high-speed passenger service linking London, Ashford, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.2. Eurostar will launch services from St Pancras International on 14 November 2007. Journey times will be an average 23-25 minutes shorter, with London – Paris 2h 15min; London – Brussels 1h 51min; and London - Lille 1h 20min.3. Eurostar will also launch services in November from Ebbsfleet International station, just off Junction 2 of the M25 near the Dartford Crossing, and close to Bluewater shopping centre in north Kent. Journey times to the Continent will be 10 minutes shorter than from St Pancras International.4. Independent research conducted by Paul Watkiss Associates and AEA Technology in September 2006 shows that, on average, a Eurostar journey between London and Paris / Brussels generates 10 times less CO2 than flying.5. Eurostar has won the title of "World's Leading Rail Service" for the last nine years at the World Travel Awards.6. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are separate companies, under different management and ownership. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel owns the Channel tunnel and operates a vehicle shuttle service.7. To book tickets for Eurostar, or to find out more information, go to, call 08705 186 186 or contact your travel agent.For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7922
Gareth HeadonEurostar Corporate CommunicationsT. +44 (0) 20 7922 4425F. +44 (0) 20 7922 4499M. +44 (0) 7802 260 096