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  • Writer's pictureEveline Vouillemin

Sustainable Travel News - Vol.1

Welcome to our first sustainable travel roundup where we will share some of the most recent updates, news and developments shaping the future of eco-friendly travel.

This month's stories showcase some of the new train routes that will be launching across Europe, Oxford's strides to become the electric bus capital of the UK and plans to make cycling more affordable in London.

Train station with the sun setting behind.

1. Plans for direct trains from St Pancras to Germany and Switzerland

Trains from London to Europe could be expanded under proposed plans which would see new direct rail routes to Germany and Switzerland.

Swiss national railways (SBB) plans a new five-hour service between St Pancras and Basel using Eurostar trains while Spanish firm Evolyn wants to open a direct link to Frankfurt, Cologne, and Zurich.

Currently, rail passengers from London to Basel have to change multiple times, with the journey taking up to seven hours.

Find out more on the Evening Standard website.

2. Plan for new, quicker London-Sheffield train service unveiled

A new, faster train service between London and Sheffield could be launched in the second half of 2025.

Transport company FirstGroup announced its plan to operate two daily return trips from London King’s Cross to the South Yorkshire city via Retford, Worksop and Woodhouse as part of its Hull Trains business.

This would create competition for East Midlands Railway, which runs direct services between London St Pancras and Sheffield, taking around two hours. Currently, almost three-quarters of trips between the cities are currently made by car, with a further 9 per cent by coach.

The proposal will also give the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop its first regular direct London train service in decades.

Find out more on the Independent website.

3. Edinburgh to London rail journeys to be cut to four hours

LNER has announced that from December 2024, rail journeys between Edinburgh and London will be cut to around four hours. The current average time to get from one end of the 400-mile route to the other is four-and-a-half hours.

The long-anticipated move to shorten the train journeys is set to encourage passengers to lean towards train travel even more, offering a much greener solution to travel.

David Horne, LNER’s managing director, said: ‘If you’re in Edinburgh, you’re now going to have an hourly fast service which will be quicker, or at least as quick, door-to-door, as if you had been travelling by air.’

Find out more on the Time Out website.

4. Trains could run from Bristol to Oxford for the first time in 20 years

Two return Saturday rail services between Bristol and Oxford could be on the timetable from September 2024.

GWR is planning to run the direct services for the first time in more than 20 years “in response to growth in demand for leisure travel by train”.

The quickest direct journey times between Temple Meads and Oxford will start from one hour 11 minutes, with stops at Bath Spa, Chippenham and Swindon.

Find out more on the B24/7 website

5. European Sleeper extends Amsterdam, Rotterdam night train

From 25 March 2024, the Brussels – Amsterdam – Berlin night train will be extended to the Czech capital Prague. Along the way it will also stop in Dresden, the nature reserve of Saxon Switzerland and in the stunning Elbe valley.

The night train departs from Amsterdam Central Station at 10:34 p.m and arrives in Dresden at 8:29 a.m. and at Prague Main Station at 10:56 a.m the following day. Ticket prices start at €89 for a seat in a shared six-person compartment.

Find out more on the NL Times website.

6. Oxford becomes UK’s electric bus capital

Oxford has officially launched one of the UK’s biggest all-electric bus fleets, making the city one of the UK’s leading adopters of zero-emission buses

The £82.5m project will deliver 159 battery-powered buses onto the roads of Oxford with the first having gone into service. It has also funded two associated electric charging hubs at the city’s bus depots.

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West, said “I hope the introduction of these new electric vehicles will entice new passengers to bus travel and those already travelling with us can rest assured they’re already making a great choice”.

7. Austria’s new rail plan will cut journey times between major European cities

Austria’s government and national rail operator ÖBB have just released plans for a ‘bold’ project, set to vastly expand and improve the country’s regional and international rail connections between now and 2040 as part of an ongoing effort to broaden the appeal of train travel.

One of the most exciting projects is the development of a double-track line in Upper Austria and Bavaria (known as the New Innkreisbahn route). As well as cutting the length of the journey between Vienna and Munich from four to just two and a half hours, it would also make connections to Paris much quicker.

Find out more on the Euronews website

8. New train journeys launching across Europe for 2024

A number of exciting new rail routes are launching in 2024, connecting various European hotspots and making it easier to travel across Europe flight-free. 

Some of the new routes include:

  • Brussels to Prague night train with European Sleeper

  • Berlin to Paris night train with ÖBB Nightjet

  • Paris to Madrid with FS Italiane Group (It’s thought journey times will come in at just under seven hours!)

  • Amsterdam to Austria via Germany with TUI’s Ski Express

Find out more on the Independent website.

9. West Midlands moves towards Oyster-style smart travel card

Rail users will soon be able to tap-in and tap-out of 75 stations using a new smart ticketing scheme across the West Midlands.

West Midlands Swift smartcard users will enjoy a similar experience to London Oyster card users – to tap in and out and secure the best value fare without having to plan ahead or seek out the right ticket.

Passengers will also enjoy the benefit of capped fares over a day or a week in the knowledge they will never overpay and can continue to travel at no charge once a cap is reached.

Find out more on the Interchange website

10. London’s Santander Cycles scheme to introduce £3/day tariff

A new £3 day pass will be introduced for Santander Cycles in March 2024, allowing an unlimited number of journeys under 30 minutes in a day, and £1 for extra half-hours. The new tariff makes TfL’s bike hire one of the most affordable ways to travel in the capital.

The number of Santander e-bikes in the capital is set to increase by more than 200% this summer as a result of Transport for London (TfL) investment.

TfL says the increase from 600 to 2,000 e-bikes will improve access to the scheme across the capital.

Find out more on the Interchange website

By Eveline Vouillemin ©

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