Practicing What We Preach: Thrust Carbon's Alpine Rail Adventures

Within a month of each other, three intrepid colleagues journeyed across Europe, not by air, but by rail, to seek out the top skiing destinations. Learn how they traveled sustainably in style.

Written by Tan Strehler Weston on 25 April, 2024

At Thrust Carbon, we spend a lot of time banging the drum for sustainable travel across our industry. But we realize things aren’t always straightforward for those we work with, particularly when it comes to reducing emissions on longer journeys.

With the winter ski season in Europe coming to an end, we thought now would be a good time to celebrate how our colleagues really walk the walk, and what additional steps we are taking to make travel effortlessly green for the whole team.

Within less than a month of each other, three intrepid colleagues journeyed across Europe, not by air, but by rail:

Kit Aspen, Founder: Kit traveled to France using Eurostar’s slick ‘ski train’ service, departing London and making a quick change in Lille before arriving in Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

Mark Corbett, Founder: Not to be outdone, by his fellow co-founder, Mark Corbett, had an epic journey across Europe, traversing France and Germany before arriving in Austria.

Tan Strehler-Weston, Head of Operations: Tan traveled home to his native Switzerland, managing just two train changes (Paris and Basel) in between London St Pancras and Interlaken.

The advantages of long-distance train travel

Though no strangers to this sort of journey, Kit, Mark and Tan were all reminded of the advantages of rail. The exciting thing is that these apply to both business and leisure travel:

- Traveling by train emits at least five times less carbon than flying. Tan’s return train trip to Switzerland saved over 254kgCO2e vs flying. This is the equivalent to the carbon absorbed by 25 newly-planted trees over a ten year period!

- Door-to-door journey times are usually better than they seem. By skipping airport security, lengthy embarkation times and airport transfers (let’s say this adds up to 5-6 hours for most short European flights) train travel can be surprisingly time efficient. London to Stuttgart is possible in under 7 hours, while Milan to Zurich is a touch over 4 hours.

- It’s easier to be productive on the train. A higher proportion of a train journey can be spent being productive, rather than rushing through airports and packing things away for take off. Could you avoid taking a day of holiday - or play games with the family - by taking the train?

- Train travel can be beautiful and adventurous! Not only did Kit, Mark and Tan bypass the hassle of airport security, but they enjoyed a serene travel experience, with the picturesque alps as constant companions! It’s hard to put into words, but these sorts of journeys - changing trains in Paris, zooming through the mountains, grabbing lunch in Zurich - just feel… adventurous.

You don’t get views like this from a plane!

Top Tips for Effortless Green Travel

- Use a joined-up booking platform: It’s just not realistic to use two or three national train operators’ booking systems when trying to plan an international rail journey. Platforms such as The Trainline can take the hard work out of your travel plans, taking care of connections and keeping your tickets all in one place.

- Mid-week Travel: Taking the train can sometimes be pricier, particularly between the UK and continental Europe (due to a lack of capacity, among other reasons). To lock in the best value, opt for midweek departures to benefit from more competitive fares and a quieter travel experience.

- Don’t assume that flying is the only way: Long distance train travel is enjoying a renaissance, especially in Europe. Before booking a flight out of habit, take 5 minutes to check whether your journey is served by a convenient rail connection. You could well be surprised!

Thrust Carbon's Commitment

Thrust Carbon understands that trying to do things differently can have drawbacks. We believe the sacrifice - even before factoring in the many advantages - is both necessary and worthwhile.

But we want to do more than just make the moral and scientific case. We want to drive change.

Many will be familiar with products such as the Thrust Calculator and Thrust Engage, which empower better decision making for enterprises of all sizes. On top of this, we monitor our own impact with an obsession.

Our green business travel policies heavily encourage greener forms of travel, and we’ve recently introduced innovative staff benefits to help our colleagues to make sustainable holiday choices away from work. If employees opt for the train or ferry over planes for their holidays, we’ll contribute £50 per ticket (including for family members). Moreover, for those requiring a vehicle at their destination, Thrust Carbon contributes towards the rental of electric cars, reinforcing its dedication to environmental stewardship.

Here’s to re-learning not just how to travel internationally, but also how to have an adventure along the way.

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