The Railholiday Green PageHeating with Wood | Food and Drink | Gardens and Outside | In the Office | Public Transport and Travel | Recycling and Waste | Social and Charity Work | Sustainability | Awards | Looking Forwards
We try and run Railholiday as sustainably as possible. On this page we show what we and our guests are doing to bring this about. If you would like to know a little more about our journey to sustainability, please follow this link to our story.
As a company we have declared a Climate Emergency, and will endeavour to do all we can to minimise our impact on the environment.
Carbon Offsetting Options
We offer options to offset your holiday carbon use. For £25 we will plant a tree for you in one of our sites, or create and maintain three metres of wildlife hedge. Have a look at our carbon offsetting page to see what our guests have funded.
Come by train, bus, bike, sailing boat or on foot (all of these are possible, both St Germans and Hayle in Cornwall are well connected) and we will knock £25 off your holiday!
We have been on green energy tarrifs from when they first became available, and constantly review who is offering the greenest energy. However all energy comes at a cost, so we also strive to keep energy usage to a minimum. We hope when you stay you will help us to be green by turning down the heaters and turning the lights off when you go out. In return we will continue to prioritise and monitor our energy usage. Here are a few things we do;
- The electricity for all carriages is run on national renewable energy schemes and sourced from Good Energy, who offer all their electricity from renewable sources.
- Low energy bulbs are used in all carriages.
- All heaters are fitted with thermostat regulators.
- All coaches are insulated and this is a priority when converting our new coaches.
- In the amenities area, lights and sockets are on a sensor.
- All coaches in St Germans are heated with wood.
- Any new appliances we purchase are chosen for their A or A+ energy efficiency rating and made in the UK where possible.
- Any new items come at an environmental cost, so we work on the policy that goods should be kept in good order and kept going for as long as is practical.
- We try to buy the best quality our budget will allow, so we have longevity from products.
Heating with wood
With ten acres of woodland it makes sense to heat our carriages with wood to help reduce energy use in winter. We’ve invested a lot into wood fuel in the last couple of years, buying a state of the art wood burning biomass system to heat all the carriages on the new site. At the moment Mevy and Millpool have very effective central heating powered by the biomass boiler. We have also installed a wood burner in the Travelling Post Office as well as the Old Luggage Van. There is an added bonus for us - year round warmth means happy guests! (And there is something rather wonderful about snuggling up to a fire after a bracing walk around the countryside...). All our wood fuel is seasoned under cover until its moisture content is below 20% to ensure that it burns cleanly and creates very little smoke.
Food and Drink
With Lizzy’s dad having a small holding growing cobnuts, walnuts and Cornish varieties of apples for apple juice, we know all about what goes into making quality local food, and couldn’t imagine offering our guests anything other than the best. Therefore all the food and drink in our welcome packs is sourced locally. Typically we may provide;
- Cornish biscuits from Simply Cornish. The clotted cream shortcake has proved very popular.
- Cornish Rattler from the Cornish Cyder Farm.
- Cornish Apple Juice from Karensa Aval. As local as you can get! Single Cornish varieties from small spray free orchards within a five mile radius of Saltash are heat pasteurised. Nothing added - just wonderful traditional juice. The bottles are saved for reuse.
- Cornish beer from Atlantic Brewery. This beer is organic, vegan and very quoffable!
- Cornish milk from The Green Cow Dairy in St Germans in reusable glass bottles.
- Organic Soap from Cornish Soap Box.
Gardening and the Outside Areas
Lizzy admit's to becoming a bit of a garden fanatic, ready to bore anyone with information on positive pollinator planting and organic gardening methods. The farming background is coming in handy! However we have discovered that a green approach to gardening really works and we are proud of our beautiful gardens; last year we won Caradon in Bloom’s award for the most wildlife friendly garden. You can see more about our approach to gardens on our Gardens page or read our Wildlife Blog.
- All our outside taps in St Germans are fed with grey water from a well. In Hayle we have a 200 ltr water butt.
- We garden in a sustainable manner, feeding our plants with a food made from liquid from our composting system. We also use our home produced compost to enrich the soil.
- Composting bins are provided in each of the carriages, and guests are encouraged to use them.
- We never use slug pellets, instead planting slug resistant plants.
- In St Germans we grow our own flowers to put in the vases in the lets, and guests are welcome to use herbs from our prolific herb bed.
- We buy our plants from local suppliers, and can highly recommend the Farm Shop on Penpol Terrace in Hayle which is excellent for bedding plants and local flowers.
- In St Germans we encourage the birds by providing plenty of bird feeders.
- In St Germans guests have unlimited access to our ten acres of ancient woodland, situated a short walk away from the carriages, and are offered the opportunity to visit a local apple orchard under the Countryside Stewardship scheme.
- In St Germans we are regularly visited by a moth expert, on account of the diverse range of moths. He has produced a catalogue of moths spotted, which is available in the carriage
- In the grounds of Hayle we cultivate a wild area, which is the perfect habitat for all sorts of flora and fauna, strimming only after the wild flowers have seeded.
In the Office
Good practice starts at home, and in the Railholiday office this is no exception, so we:
- Use recycled paper only.
- Keep scrap sheets for writing and printing internal memos.
- Heat the office using a wood burning stove, and in winter all hot water and the kettle is also heated by the stove.
- Power the office and the Old Luggage Van with a 3.6kW solar panel installation.
Public Transport and Travel
Here at Railholiday we strongly believe in the joys of public transport, and for this reason have chosen sites for our carriages beside working railway stations. Lizzy is chair of the St Germans Rail Users Group and regularly attends transport planning forums. In order to encourage our guests to escape the queues and enjoy the countryside by catching the train, bus, walking or cycling we:
- Have written a book of day trips by train, which is provided in each carriage.
- Supply up to date timetables.
- Send information on day trips by train and timetable information to guests with their second booking confirmation.
- Provide a comprehensive Transport web page, with useful links to public transport information.
- Offer guests a £25 cash back incentive if they leave their car at home.
- Include information on local walks.
- Catch the train to Hayle to do our gardening and maintenance work, only needing to drive down a couple of times a year. (It's amazing what you can transport on a train off-season!)
- Actively promote attractions that are accessible by train, foot and bike.
- With the Rail Users Group Lizzy organises regular surveys, to provide information to First Great Western and keep St Germans station on the map.
Recycling and Waste
We recycle on a grand scale, taking derelict carriages and giving them a new lease of life, using wood from our own woodland wherever possible, local labour and craftspeople. We are rather proud of the end result. Here is a little information on how our guests help too.
- At Railholiday we practice a system of Reduce, Reuse, Return and Recycle. Please follow the link for more information.
- All carriages are provided with composting bins - we use our own compost on our gardens.
- There are excellent facilities for recycling in all carriages. There is an inside bin in all carriages for glass, plastic, paper, card, cans and tins, and clear instructions on what to do with the recycling.
- All toilets are fitted with water saving devices, and the toilets at St Germans are fed with grey water from a well.
- The bathroom taps in the carriage at Hayle are the original push and pour type, so cannot be inadvertently left on
- Showers are fitted in all carriages.
- We use green cleaning products wherever possible.
Social and Charity Work
To see some of our work within the community, please visit our Community Page
Having been in the village for twenty six years, and Lizzy for considerably longer, we are quite use to stepping in to play music for events, building display boards, balancing books, making rafts, trees and giants, and all the other fun things that make village life. We also actively play a part in the wider railway community. Here are a few of the ways in which we are involved;
- Lizzy is the chair of the St Germans Rail Users’ Group, committed to raising awareness of the local rail service and carrying out surveys to assess rail usage and attending the South West Public Transport Users Forums.
- Dave has been the treasurer for the St Germans' Village Community Shop Project, helping to set up the shop, and is now a voluntary member of staff.
We also are regularly involved in fundraising for a variety of local and National charities, including St Germans School , St Germans and Downderry Cubs, The Railway Children and the RNLI.
- We helped set up The May Tree Fair, an annual village event. Dave is currently treasurer and Lizzy organises the music;
- We have donated holidays to The Railway Children, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, The Campaign for Better Transport, ACTSA, Avon Valley Railway, Bodmin and Wenford Railway, Children’s Hospice South West and the Nene Valley Railway. We estimate our donations over the last few years have raised over £10000 in total for these charities.
- We play in a band Wurlitza giving old silent films a new lease of life with a new live music soundtrack. Lizzy also plays in various other collaborations often performing for charities, including for the school, the May Tree Fair, the local youth theatre group, the Plymouth MS Society and more.
- We hold community open days for the village, and for members of Coast, the excellent Cornwall sustainable tourism project. At each day we raise money for charity; the local Rail User Group, St Germans Village youth groups, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Railway Children have all been supported. The video of our latest day is above.
- We are currently building links with Saltash.net Community School to offer work experience for students with an interest in tourism. Our latest work experience student, Luke Carter, did a lot on our St Germans page.
- Lizzy is an ambassador for the Coast Project’s Heritage and Environmental Growth schemes, spreading the word about local heritage and positive pollinator planting.
- We are members of the carriage restoration group RailC, spreading and receiving advice about all things railway.
The premise for the Railholiday idea is one of sustainability - converting redundant coaches and giving them a new lease of life, and in many cases saving them from being destroyed. We are careful to keep as much original material as possible, and wherever possible use salvaged material in the conversion work. In addition, we also:
- Are a holder of the South East Cornwall Tourism Association's Green Acorn Award for Sustainable Tourism.
- Are a member of Coast.
- Provide guests with a leaflet encouraging them to be green.
- Attend sustainability seminars and constantly re-appraise how we can improve our green record
- Lizzy is an ambassador for Coast Project, and will happy to help you with any sustainable queries you have - call me on 07776 261192.
We began applying for awards three years ago, and have found the application process enormously helpful in greening our business and would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to become more sustainable. Visit our Awards Page for more information.
We were quite pleased to find that our list of things to do in the future of two years ago has been pretty much completed. However there are always ways in which we can improve; the more we do, the more this seems to be. It is our intention to continue greening our business. Our targets for the medium and long term are now;
- To create a booklet of things to do on the Cornish main line that will be distributed around Cornish stations, thus benefitting everyone in the wider community as well as our guests.
- To work on developing our walking and cycling pages.
- To continue building on the Day Trips by Train database.
- To replace all old appliances with more energy efficient ones, once they are no longer usable.
- To continue replacing low energy bulbs with LED ones when they reach the end of their life.
- To build a larger pond in St Germans.
- To continue to landscape to provide flowers all the year round to put in the carriages, and to spread the knowledge with others.
- To continue planting hedging around our woods.
- To expand the varieties of native broad leafed trees in our woodland.
- To put up more bird and bat boxes, and keep up the system of laying log piles each year.
Railholiday is commited to being a sustainable tourism business. As part of this we offer a £25 cashback for guests arriving by train. Our carriages in St Germans have the added benefit of free broadband internet access.