EUROPE: Eurostar marked the 10th anniversary of its Tread Lightly environmental programme with the unveiling on February 6 of an ‘ambitious’ 10 point plan to reduce its environmental impact. CEO Nicolas Petrovic said the high speed train operator had already achieved a 32% reduction in carbon emissions through Tread Lightly, and a 50% cut in waste.

The 10-point plan includes:

  1. A 5% reduction in train energy consumption by 2020, supported by the use of Siemens Velaro e320 trainsets in place of the original rolling stock;
  2. Reducing traction energy consumption through the use of energy meters on the e320 trainsets and training drivers to save energy;
  3. No traction energy to be sourced from fossil fuel sources by 2030;
  4. Installing solar panels at the UK depot;
  5. Reducing the volume of waste going to landfill;
  6. Working with catering suppliers to reduce waste and find alternatives to traditional packaging;
  7. A 50% reduction in the use of plastic by 2020, starting with the elimination of plastic drinking straws. Plastic bottles are a personal ‘hobby horse’ for Petrovic, and the company is seeking ways to reduce their use;
  8. Using digital technology to eliminate paper ticketing, with a reduction of 50% by 2020 anticipated;
  9. Having an all-electric road vehicle fleet by 2020, including working with suppliers to accelerate a switch to electric refrigerated lorries;
  10. Upgrading the Sustainable Restaurant Association rating for the onboard and business lounge catering from two to three stars by 2020.

Eurostar is keen to highlight the environmental benefits of high speed rail travel compared to flying, calculating that a Eurostar journey from London to Paris emits 90% less greenhouse gases than the equivalent short haul flight, with a smaller carbon footprint per passenger than just a car journey from central London to Heathrow airport. ‘We want to help Europe switch from high carbon transport to low carbon, from air to high speed rail’, said Petrovic.

Eurostar is also engaging with local communities around its sites, providing schoolchildren in the London King’s Cross area with a quiet space in its offices for after-school study, supporting the teaching of subjects including French, and running work experience and apprenticeship programmes. ‘We are part of the city and want everyone to think they have a link to Eurostar’, explained Petrovic.