• Richard Hammond

Launch of new overnight train from Paris to Vienna

Updated: Jan 8

Our digest of green travel in the news compiled by Richard Hammond

Aerial of Vienna, Austria
The beautiful Austrian city of Vienna, now reachable by overnight sleeper from Paris

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Launch of new overnight train from Paris to Vienna

A new overnight train sleeper service has launched from Paris to Vienna. The Paris Nightjet sleeper train departs from Gare de l'Est - just a 5-10 minute (500m) walk from where the Eurostar arrives in at Gare de Nord (see our handy guide to how to transfer across stations in Paris that provides step-by-step instructions for how to transfer from Gare du Nord to Gare de l'Est). The sleeper train leaves Paris Gare de l'Est just before 8pm three times a week (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday), arriving at Vienna Hbf at just after 10am the following morning, how civilised! You can use this service to go by train from London all the way to Vienna with one easy change in Paris. The Nightjet train service is operated by ÖBB (Austrian Railways), which has recently ordered a fleet of new Nightjets that it says are on track for departing in Spring 2023, here's a glimpse of what they'll look like:


World’s first UNESCO trail launched in Scotland

The world’s first ever UNESCO trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites, has launched. Scotland’s UNESCO Trail brings the country’s 13 place-based UNESCO designations, including World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities together to form a dedicated digital trail that aims to take visitors "on a cultural journey across the country experiencing everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes". According to a release from Visit Scotland, the initiative is designed "specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination" encouraging visitors to "stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites".


The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are:

  • The Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere,

  • Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere

  • Dundee UNESCO City of Design

  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature

  • Glasgow UNESCO City of Music

  • Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark

  • North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark

  • Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • St Kilda World Heritage Site.

Electric vehicles take nearly 20% of UK new car market in November

According to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) took 18.8% market share for UK new car registrations in November, according to an article in Smart Transport, which reports that almost 22,000 BEVs were sold last month in the UK, more than double compared with November 2020 – while plug-in hybrid vehicles’ (PHEVs) share grew to 9.3% or 10,796 units.


The Copenhagen neighbourhood that's leading the way for sustainable cities

Shilpa Ganatra writes in the Independent about the Nordhavn district, 20 minutes from central Copenhagen that's positioning itself as a "model sustainable community".


Waterside Wanderer Ticket

South Western Railway and the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, in partnership with other local public transport providers, have launched a new ticketing product that is set to make integrated travel in Hampshire much simpler and easier. The new one day integrated travel ticket in the Southampton area, covering rail, bus and ferry services, known as the Waterside Wanderer, costs just £13.50 and allows customers to access areas from Winchester to the New Forest.


Launch of the Glasgow Declaration The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) launched the Glasgow Declaration at COP 26. The declaration aims to defines a clear and consistent sector-wide approach to climate action in the coming decade: "The Glasgow Declaration is a catalyst for increased urgency about the need to accelerate climate action in tourism and to secure strong actions and commitment to support the global goals to halve emissions over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050". Green Traveller was one of the launch partners of the Declaration and we produced this video for UNWTO for the launch:


Birdfair cancelled

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has announce that it will no longer run the annual Rutland Water Birdfair. Working with co-promoter, the RSPB, the Trust has run the popular event for over 30 years, raising millions for overseas projects run via the Birdlife International group of charities, but it cited the climate crisis as a key factor in its decision to stop running the event. In a statement released by the organisation, it said: "the current format of Birdfair is heavily influenced by travel and tourism with exhibitors travelling from 80 different countries to attend. The carbon footprint generated both by the event itself and the activities it promotes does not now fit well with our own strategy towards tackling the climate crisis".

The global pandemic was also cited as another key factor. Jamie Perry, Head of Engagement for LRWT, explained: “The global pandemic has had a significant effect on our day-to-day operations as a charity. Like many other similar institutions, we have seen income streams lost or reduced, with a resultant impact on our financial reserves and thus the delivery of our charitable work. Birdfair operations have contributed to these financial concerns.”


“Birdfair proceeds have always been donated in full to Birdlife International. LRWT has never received any part of this, but we have nevertheless borne 100% of the risks and liabilities, and have supplied the staff and volunteer effort of running the event. This is a significant burden for any organisation, let alone a small, local charity such as ourselves.”


He continued: “We must now turn all of our attention and efforts to our core mission of saving, restoring and connecting people with wildlife and habitats across Leicestershire and Rutland with the aim of aiding nature’s recovery.”


Airbnb publishes host's guide to sustainable tourism

Accommodation online marketplace Airbnb has published a Host's guide to supporting sustainable tourism, which it says it has compiled from its global community of Hosts, and by working the United Nations Environment Programme and World Wildlife Fund. The guide includes tips on helping guests find their way with public transport and informing guests about local environmental issues. Airbnb has also partnered with green energy supplier OVO to help hosts power their homes with renewable energy and has announced 'off the grid' as one of four new categories of homes; the others are: 'offbeat', 'luxe' and 'skin-in/ski-out'.


Tips for businesses on how to go green

The National Coastal Tourism Academy has produced a guide for businesses on how to go green offering "the first steps on your road to green recovery". A recent consumer survey by NCTA showed that 86% said reducing their carbon footprint or making more sustainable choices on holiday was very (34%) or somewhat (52%) important to them.


Community Rail Awards Community rail initiatives, delivered by community groups, partnerships and volunteers across Britain – supporting social inclusion, sustainable travel, empowered communities and economic recovery – have been celebrated at the 17th Community Rail Awards. The Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail Award was jointly awarded to Southeast Communities Rail Partnership (which coordinates activity on eight rail lines across Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and Berkshire, including education and sustainable travel programmes reaching thousands of children, helping adults with additional needs to build rail confidence, and promoting green leisure travel) and Friends of Buxton Station (a volunteer group that has cemented its place at the heart of its community during the pandemic via hugely varied initiatives from arts projects at the station and run digitally, to raising awareness about biodiversity, to improving integrated transport, to supporting local businesses).


How flying went from luxury aspiration to a contested practice

Sara Ullstrom's PhD looks at how holiday flying in Sweden since the 1950s has shifted from luxury aspiration to a normal mode of transport to a "contested practice".


And finally...

On board the Climate Train to COP 26 in Glasgow, I filmed this short video about the activists of Youth for Sustainable Travel (Rail to the Cop) determined to hold politicians to account: