X Log In Home Our Carriages   Luggage Van   Millpool   TPO   Mevy   Harvey Prices+Booking Explore   St Germans   Hayle   Cornwall Environmental   Transport   Carbon Offset   Daytrips   Gardens   Woods   Blog Children Pets About   Contact   Legal Stuff   Accessibility   Awards   Media   FAQ's   News Links

The Railholiday Green Page

On this Page   | Energy   | Net Zero   | Heating with Wood   |  Carbon Offsetting Options   | Food and Drink   | Green Cleaning   | Natural Gardens and Ecological Growth   | In the Office   | Public Transport and Travel   |  Communication   | Recycling and Waste   | Conserving Water and Reducing Pollution   | Social and Charity Work   | Sustainability   | Awards   | Staff   | Accessibility   | Looking Forward

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.

The video above was made a few years ago, but is a good snapshot into our sustainable approach. Since it was made Millpool has been completed and offers fully accessible holiday accommodation. However our latest project, a carriage built for Queen Victoria’s royal train, is looking in a similar state as we repair the frame with chestnut from our woodland. We have also installed heat pumps in the Travelling Post Office and Harvey in Hayle, and commissioned the local artist Brian Hoskin to create new signs for our woodland trail, that local printer A2Z Print has printed on di-bond boards for us.

As a company we have declared a Climate Emergency, and will endeavour to do all we can to minimise our impact on the environment.

Dave laying underfloor heating


We have been on green energy tarrifs from when they first became available, and constantly review who is offering the greenest deal. 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;

Aiming for Net Zero

We believe it is important to minimise our environmental impact, so in November 2022 we employed Emily to analyse our carbon use and working out ways we can achieve our target of net zero by 2030. Our first audit (year 20-21)can be seen here.

Emissions are divided into three categories: Scope 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 are emissions that are released on site (eg. burning wood, gas or fuel for the cars), Scope 2 are indirect emissions from purchased energy, and Scope 3 is from purchases. For further information, The National Grid explanation of Scopes is clear and concise. Because we rarely drive, and burn our own wood for heat, our Scope 1 emissions are low (4.23 tonnes). This includes the gas we were using at Hayle. Since this audit we have lowered our Scope 1 emissions further by fitting an air-source heat pump at Hayle, which is powered by renewable electricity. Our scope 2 counts as zero because we only use renewable energy in our carriages and office. The majority (24.87 tonnes) of our emissions are Scope 3; our purchases. We are also aware that guests travelling to us add hugely to our carbon footprint.

We have been working on reducing our emissions by:

  • Writing to our suppliers asking them what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Increasing diligence in our purchasing, and working out ways in which we can avoid buying new.
  • Running a guest travel questionnaire, to see how we can encourage less guest miles.
  • Talking to our staff, and encouraging them to learn more, so that they can also input ideas into ways we can reduce our carbon spend.
  • Investing in an electric bike that is also available to our staff, to reduce car journeys further.
  • Providing an EV charging point for guests that do come by car.
  • Replacing our petrol mower with an electric rechargeable one.
  • Installing a heat-pump in Hayle so we no longer need gas.
  • Continuing to commit to our make do and mend policy: mending as a first option, buying secondhand if this is not possible, and as a last resort buying new, but choosing goods for their environmental and social provenance (eg local or fair-trade wherever possible), longevity and energy efficiency.
  • 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 few years, buying a state of the art wood burning biomass system to heat the carriages on our site. At the moment Mevy and Millpool have very effective central heating powered by the biomass boiler. The pipes are run through our unrestored carriages to keep them dry and catch any heat lost in transit.

    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 for several years under cover until its moisture content is below 20% to ensure that it burns cleanly and creates very little smoke.


    Carbon Offsetting Options

    We offer options to offset your holiday carbon use. For £25 we will plant a tree for you, and also double the value of your donation by adding a further £25 to our tree planting fund. In addition to planting trees on land we own, in the last few years this fund has helped to fund community orchards in St Germans, Moor Barton and Loveland, Penryn.

    Do take a look at our carbon offsetting page to see what our guests have funded.

    All trees funded by our tree planting scheme would otherwise have not have been planted. This is very important to us.

    In addition to our tree planting fund, we also plant hedges and trees to offset our own carbon. In the last ten years we have planted well over 2000 whips and young trees spread over the sites we manage; our ten acres of woodland, the carriage gardens and the 38 acres of family land near Landrake, a self-declared autonomous republic know as Pommania. Many of the hedges and trees are now quite substantial.

    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 £50 off your holiday!

    Almond Blossom

    Green Cleaning

    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:

    Natural Gardens and Ecological Growth

    Lizzy admits 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; we have won Caradon in Bloom’s award for the most wildlife friendly garden for several years. You can see more about our approach to gardens on our Gardens page or read our Wildlife Blog.

    In the Office

    Good practise starts at home, and in the Railholiday office this is no exception, so we:

    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 actively involved in the St Germans and Area Public Transport Users Group, having just stepped down from five years as chair.

    We have an EV charger. However given that there is a big carbon cost in any new car, pollution is created by tyre dust and wildlife is killed on the roads and less cars means safer roads for cyclists and walkers, we passionately believe the way forward is through greener forms of transport. In order to help our guests to escape the queues and enjoy the countryside by catching the train, bus, walking or cycling we:


    We believe information is a powerful tool against climate change. We are committed to share our ideologies by:

    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 more information.

    Conserving Water and Reducing Pollution

    Bees on echinops

    Social and Charity Work

    Having been in the village for thirty 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, being on the various village group committees and more often than not ending up as chair or treasurer, plus 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:

    More Sustainability

    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:

    Our Awards

    We began applying for awards several years ago and have found the application process enormously helpful in greening our business and would highly recommend anyone wishing to become more sustainable to apply.The feedback has been so useful to us.Our highest moment was probably winning the Visit England award for the most sustainable tourism business of 2016, but we are are equally proud of our success in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards, and winning the iTravel self-catering accommodation in 2021 on account of our environmental approach. Visit our Awards Page for more information.


    We are a certified living wage employer. We believe in equal opportunities; our staff are chosen for their positive qualities and their loyalty is impressive; most of our staff members have been with us for well over a decade and Bob, Harvey's caretaker, is now in his 23rd year. We have a flexible staffing arrangement, ensuring plenty of cover for changeover days so that should a staff member need time off there is never any problem covering this.

    As a team we share ideas and expertise, and make sure everyone has a say. In this was we can discuss environmental concerns and any other issues that might come up. We do this by having Feedback Fridays at cribtime on our main changeover day, when everyone is encouraged to talk about anything they have problems with, and to share good ideas.

    The video below shows some of our staff. It doesn't include everyone; our latest employees include three new members. Sarah, who has autism and has helped us enormously in our understanding of additional needs, is in charge of cleaning the games room, filling the log stores and de-cobwebbing the railings. Emily is helping us in the office with our quest to reach net zero and, after a career in oncology, Hodgkin's sister Glad has joined our changeover team and is a font of knowledge for all things medical. All are valuable members of our work community.

    For a more in-depth look at what happens at Railholiday on changeover days do have a look at the tongue in cheek video What Do People Do All Day? at Railholiday, St Germans, Cornwall.


    We are committed to being accessible in all areas of our business. This includes:

  • Being an equal opportunities employer.
  • Making sure our carriages offer the most accessible experience they can. For this reason we have ramped access to The Travelling Post Office and Mevy and a fully accessible carriage Millpool with completely level access.
  • Providing mobility aids, including toilet risers, easy-grip cutlery, toilet surround, shower chair and bathroom stool are available on request.
  • Providing high chairs and cots on request.
  • Making our carriage Mevy pet free, to help allergy sufferers. Hypoallergenic bedding is provided in all carriages.
  • Printing our information for guests in medium-large print. It is a bug-bear of ours when things are tricky to read! Extra large print copies are available on request.
  • Providing a deaf smoke alarm that is available on request.

    More can be read on our Accessibility Page.

  • Looking forward

    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: