Yesterday, Eurostar unveiled a ten-point plan in support of its Tread Lightly environmental commitments and in line with the 2016 Paris climate agreement. These new targets build on the achievements of the last eight years during which time Eurostar has achieved a 32 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and a 50 per cent cut in waste across its business.
The environmental benefits of travelling by high speed rail versus plane are significant. A Eurostar journey from London to Paris emits 90 per cent less greenhouse gas than the equivalent short-haul flight and produces less carbon per passenger than a single car journey from central London to Heathrow Airport.
With over four million passengers travelling by air between London and Amsterdam every year, Eurostar’s upcoming service from the UK to the Netherlands reinforces high speed rail as the most environmentally responsible choice for short haul travel.
A Eurostar journey from London to Amsterdam results in 80 per cent less carbon per passenger than a flight with the new high-speed rail service transporting the equivalent of eight flights per day, over 50 flights per week and over 2,600 flights per year. Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said:
“Over the last eight years we have reduced our carbon footprint by over 30 per cent but given the scale of the challenge facing the environment, we are now setting stretching new targets. High speed rail plays a pivotal role in encouraging the switch to more sustainable modes of transport and we are committed to increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our waste across the business.”
Reducing waste is central to Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme which is focused on minimising waste on board and identifying innovative alternatives to traditional packaging. Over the next three years, Eurostar has committed to halving its consumption of plastics and usage of paper tickets. This drive to remove plastics has been launched with the elimination of plastic straws onboard Eurostar trains and in its business lounges which is the first in a series of planned initiatives. As a high-speed rail operator travelling across the UK, France and Belgium, Eurostar has worked hard to ensure that it does not simply travel through, but actively engages with, its communities.
From its innovative Homework Club providing young people in the King’s Cross area with a quiet space for after-school study in its offices, to its work experience programme, its language skills support and its longstanding apprenticeship scheme, Eurostar is constantly finding valuable ways of supporting young people in the local area. Petrovic continued:
“As a business working across a range of destinations we have always had a strong sense of responsibility to our environment and the communities in which we operate. We value the relationships we have forged with local schools and are committed to building on our commitments over the coming years.”
The 10 point plan is detailed below:
1. To make a reduction of 5 per cent of train energy by 2020. Train energy represents the majority of the power taken from the national grids to operate trains
2. To reduce traction energy by using energy meters on-board the e320 trains and delivering an energy efficient driving programme to all train drivers by 2020
3. To introduce alternatives to fossil fuel energy for all train journeys across the markets by 2030
4. To invest in renewable energy at the UK depot, the biggest industrial facility with a substantial footprint, by installing banks of solar panels
5. To continue to prevent waste from going to landfill at the stations and work with partner railways to achieve more segregation of waste and increase rates of recycling
Reducing plastic and waste
6. To commit to reducing waste on board, working with catering suppliers to reduce waste at source and using best industry practice to find innovative alternatives to traditional packaging
7. To set up a working group focused on reducing the usage of ‘plastic’ with the clear remit of finding new alternatives to plastic. The aim is to reduce the consumption of plastic by 50 per cent by 2020
8. Over the last 10 years Eurostar have significantly reduced the amount of paper used by thousands of tons. Using digital technology the aim is to eliminate paper ticketing with a reduction of 50 per cent by 2020
Commitment to sustainability
9. To commit to exchanging all the vehicles owned for electric alternatives by 2020. In the meantime, Eurostar will work with the supplier to accelerate the switch of its vehicles, electric refrigerated HGVs in particular
10. To improve sustainable food credentials further by up-grading the 2-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association for on-board and business lounge food and drink to a 3-star rating by 2020.