Amidst the flygskam movement, Eurostar is marketing itself as a sustainable choice for short-haul European travel, announcing a string of sustainable initiatives to mark its 25th anniversary.

The high-speed rail service linking the UK with mainland Europe launched its “Tread Lightly” environmental programme in 2007, but will update it next year with further commitments to sustainable travel.

From January 1 2020, Eurostar will plant a tree for every train service that it operates across its routes. The rail service has partnered with the Woodland Trust, Reforest Action and Trees for All to plant 20,000 additional trees annually in woodlands across its markets of the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Mike Cooper, CEO of Eurostar, commented:

“We have always had a strong sense of responsibility for the environment but as the demand for sustainable travel becomes increasingly critical, we believe we can raise the bar. With our environmental ambitions and our tree planting programme we are providing an attractive eco-friendly alternative to the airlines”

Darren Moorcroft, Chief Executive of Woodland Trust, added:

“To meet the Government’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 there needs to be at least a threefold increase in the amount of trees going in the ground. Eurostar’s commitment to plant in celebration of its 25th birthday is a welcome one. The amount of trees being planted through this partnership will sequest around a thousand tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime.”

Eurostar has already begun to remove single-use plastics from its services. At the start of November, it operated its first plastic-free train between London and Paris. The train featured new wooden cutlery, recyclable cans of water, glass wine bottles, paper-based coffee cups and eco-friendly food packaging.

Eurostar has also recently been awarded a three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, ensuring that its ingredients are seasonal, fairtrade or organic, not air-freighted and sourced from farmers with high environmental and welfare standards.

Chef Raymond Blanc OBE, Eurostar’s Business Premier Culinary Director, announced that “working with Eurostar demonstrates that good food can be produced sustainably, even with the challenges of serving food whilst travelling at high-speed.”

Since the launch of Tread Lightly, Eurostar has reduced its carbon footprint by 43 per cent and emits up to 90 per cent less greenhouse gas emission than the equivalent flight.

Eurostar has carried over 200 million passengers in the past 25 years. For a look back at our report on the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, read our From The Archive feature.