10 Mar 2015

UK-based sustainable travel company ‘Reading Buses’ has been selected to represent the nation in the 2015 Eurostar Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel, moving one step closer to winning a share of the £30,000 prize fund.

The British company has been chosen alongside three initiatives based in France and Belgium. The four projects will now go through a rigorous judging process, before two winners are crowned in a special ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 11 June 2015.  

‘Reading Buses’ is at the forefront of the sustainable transport agenda, making bus travel a greener alternative. Almost 40% of its fleet are powered by fuels or engines that are more environmentally friendly than regular diesel engines. Of these 20% are powered by bio methane, a naturally clean gas that comes from manure and other farm waste with the process being certificated as carbon neutral. This is in addition to them specifying the very latest EURO emissions standard engines for their new double deck buses and running a comprehensive employee environmental awareness initiative. All efforts are geared towards making buses a better choice for travellers and helping to reduce the number of cars on the road every year: 24% of trips into the city are now by bus, an increase of 2% in the past twelve months.

The company, which is driven by the increasing need to connect Reading in a sustainable way, is experiencing solid growth including a 9.2% increase in customers over the last twelve months, placing it in fourth place on the Department for Transport’s ranking of English bus use per head of population.

Martijn Gilbert, Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer, said; “We are delighted to have been selected as one of just four finalists for the Eurostar Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel. Reading Buses has a long history of innovation particularly when it comes to trialling alternative fuels and sustainable technologies.

We believe that buses are the best choice for affordable and sustainable urban area mobility and we are working hard to get even more people travelling by bus in order to improve emissions per vehicle and per passenger. With a fleet of 170 buses, transporting 54,600 passengers on over 27 routes each weekday, we aim to encourage people to adopt more sustainable modes of transport and help reduce the carbon footprint.

Now in their fourth year, the Ashden Awards celebrate the achievements of pioneering travel initiatives in the UK, France and Belgium, which encourage people to adopt more sustainable ways of travelling, helping improve quality of life whilst reducing congestion, pollution, and CO₂ emissions.

In addition to prize money, winners are offered a package of benefits including a platform to promote their work; a short film showcasing the sustainable travel scheme, introductions to policymakers, potential funders and investors, as well as access to the prestigious Ashden Alumni network.

The other finalists selected by a panel of sustainability experts are:


  • Les Bôites a Vélo – Based in Nantes, Les Bôites a Vélo is a unique collective of 24 businesses. In 2012 the business decided to move away from using gas delivery vans for a more environmentally friendly alternative; a simple bicycle with a box attached to it. Rather than slowing down sales, the ‘bicycle boxes’ enable flexible and fast delivery, while members of the collective, from couriers to caterers, support each other by acting as cross-referral network. So far, Les Boîtes à Vélo has taken 21 trade vehicles off the streets of Nantes, helping demonstrate the true potential of cycling in the city as it prepares for Velo-City 2015. And with their business growing, members of the collective are also taking their message to other towns and cities in France.


  • Province of West Flanders - The local authority for West Flanders in Belgium has developed a sustainable travel programme that enables people to ’try’ before they buy’, overcoming a major barrier to investing in low-carbon transport. Its free Test Caravan programme allows employees of local businesses the chance to spend three weeks trying out a selection of 95 different kinds of bicycles. The employees can either test a bicycle, or take advantage of free public transport tickets. Over 10,000 employees of local businesses in Bruges and elsewhere have engaged in this sustainable travel programme over the last year.
  • Tapazz - The Antwerp-based business is taking the sharing economy to the next level with its peer-to-peer car rental network. Its user-friendly website allows car owners to hire out their vehicles to those who want to use a car for occasional journeys. The initiative enables people to loan a car from a member of the local community, reducing the need for everyone to own their own car, helping cut carbon emissions.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said; “Yet again we have been very impressed by the high calibre of entries. The 2015 finalists offer pioneering initiatives which pave the way for sustainable travel. By celebrating the most innovative sustainable travel initiatives across the markets we operate in, we want to encourage more people to adopt environmentally friendly modes of transport, and really put sustainable travel in the spotlight.

The Eurostar Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel are part of Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme to reduce the business’ impact on the environment and encourage people to switch to more sustainable modes of transport. Since 2007, Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme has made substantial progress towards a ‘ten point plan’ to reduce consumption, source responsibly and recycle and have successfully reduced CO₂ emissions per traveller journey by 15%.

For further information and an overview of each of the four initiative’s, please visit www.ashden.org/awards/2015/travel. To  register interest in applying for a 2016 Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel, visit www.ashden.org/apply/travel and to discover more about Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme, visit http://www.eurostar-csr.com/en/



Notes to editors

About Ashden

  1. The Ashden Awards were set up in 2001 to champion practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. Since then they have rewarded and supported more than 170 winners across the UK and the developing world. www.ashden.org    
  2. The 2014 Ashden Award winners were announced on 22 May last year. Find case studies, photos and videos of the winners here: www.ashden.org/awards/2014


About Eurostar

  1. Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.
  2. Eurostar was established in 1994 as a partnership between three railway companies: SNCF, SNCB and LCR (London and Continental Railways).  On 1 September 2010, Eurostar became a single, unified corporate entity owned by three shareholders: SNCF, SNCB and LCR.
  3. The current Eurostar train was first introduced into service in 1994 carrying 750 passengers and operating at speeds of up to 300kph.  Since then, the fleet of 28 trains has carried more than 150 million passengers between London and the Continent.  Following their refurbishment these trains will continue to form a core part of the Eurostar fleet. The new e320 will carry around 900 passengers at speeds of up to 320kph.
  4. Eurostar is a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe’s leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel on the fast-expanding, European high-speed rail network.
  5. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies.  Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel operates vehicle shuttle services and the Channel Tunnel itself. Eurostar is Eurotunnel’s biggest customer.

For more information:
Eurostar Press Office 
020 7843 5500