Yesterday was the big day: the first trip of the new, improved, carbon neutral Eurostar train to Paris, leaving from its brand new headquarters at St. Pancras International for Paris. It is now the world's first train operator to make all its trips carbon neutral. The CO2 impact of a Eurostar rail journey between London and Paris or Brussels is at least 10 times less than the same trip by plane. The new Eurostar is working hard on its green credentials, hence their invitation to this lucky treehugger and a host of other green organisations, and bloggers to make the historic trip.
And how did it feel? Well, fast--the speed in England is now an ear-popping 186 mph, cutting the journey time to Paris by 20 minutes. It really was thrilling as the train pulled out of the station at 11:03 a.m. to the strains of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the announcements came on reminding us of how carbon neutral we were. Realising that we were surrounded by fellow greens such as the Women's Institute, Boy Scouts, Sustrans, hippyshopper, every action counts, and Friends of the Earth prompted some great conversations. And worrying about what to do when we arrived since all of Paris was on strike. But the burlap goody bag (pictured) filled with Innocent and Green & Black chocolate lifted our spirits
Eurostar has launched its Tread Lightly Initiative which is a two-part strategy to minimize the environmental impact of all its operations. The first part includes new controls to reduce power consumption, energy meters on trains to help drivers drive as economically as possible, sourcing cleaner electricty supplies and making better use of train capacity. The second part gets to the real nitty-gritty: e-tickets, and downloading tickets to mobile phones, sorting and recycling waste, making on-board cutlery biodegradable, and sourcing the food on board from local sources, including organic and Fairtrade suppliers. The lighting, heating and mechanical plants will be energy efficient and train washing water will be reused, and collected. Where Eurostar cannot eliminate CO2 emissions, it will invest in offsetting schemes as a last resort to ensure that every journey is carbon neutral.
This move from a smaller station has been in the planning for years; it has cost £800M to refurbish the historic St. Pancras station which was built in 1868. The glorious single span Victorian roof has 18,000 panes of glass. In the 60's there was a great battle to demolish the building and it was saved just at the last moment. It sat empty and mouldering for many years and now its renaissance is a sight to be seen--magnificent and soaring and surely the most beautiful station in Europe. :: Eurostar