Eurostar to build on green track record

Cross Channel train company Eurostar has announced plans to cut its carbon emissions and make rail an even more environmentally attractive means of travel.

The environmental performance of the high-speed trains already compares favourably with other modes of short-haul travel in Northern Europe and the proposed improvements will add weight to green arguments to use them over car, ferry or plane.

The company has launched a ten-point plan, the highlights of which are to cut its actual CO2 output by 25% by 2012 and from November 14 this year to make all journeys carbon neutral by buying in carbon credits to offset emissions.

The company believes it can achieve the 25% cut by installing energy meters on trains to help drivers drive as economically as possible, fitting new controls lighting, heating and air-conditioning to reduce power consumption, sourcing cleaner electricity supplies, making better use of train capacity and adding further energy efficiency measures when it existing trains are re-engineered.

“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,” said Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar.

“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.”

Friends of the Earth executive director Tony Juniper endorsed the move, saying: “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.”

Beyond the efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, the ten point plan includes a number of wider environmental measures including a raft of waste reduction initiatives, rainwater collection and recycling of grey water used for washing trains and serving locally-sourced, organic or Fairtrade food where possible.

Sam Bond

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