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The Railholiday Green Page

At Railholiday we pride ourselves on our efforts to be as green as possible. We thought you might like to know how we endeavour to sustain our environment, and the ways in which you as our guests are helping us to do so. If you'd like to read more about reducing your footprint Trees For Life is a good site to visit.

If you would like to know a little more about our journey to sustainability, please follow this link to our story

The perfect place for a walk or repose

For ease, you may like to skip to different parts of the page by clicking on the following tags; Carbon offsetting Options, Energy, Heating with Wood, Food and Drink, Gardens and Outside Areas, Nature Blog, In the Office, Public Transport and Travel, Recycling and Waste, Social and Charity Work Sustainability, Awards Looking Forwards.

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 tree gallery to see what our guests have funded.

Come by train and we will knock £25 off your holiday!

Winged friends always welcome


We have been on green energy tarrifs for many years now, and constantly review who is offering the greenest energy. However all energy comes at a cost, so we also aim 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 has effective central heating through the biomass stove. 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...)

A warm welcome awaits

Food and Drink

With Lizzy’s parents 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 all carriages is sourced locally. Typically we 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 tea from Tregothnan Tea. Our only non local products are coffee and sugar, which are always Fairtrade.
  • Cornish Milk from St Piran Dairies. In St Germans this is supplied by the local Community shop.
  • Organic Soap from Cornish Soap Box. We have now moved over to re-usable soap dispensers, but can qualify that Suzanne's organic liquid soap is still perfect in every way.
We're very well positioned for local shops in St Germans and Hayle, so shopping locally couldn't be easier.

Green gardening in Cornwall

Gardening and the Outside Areas

Lizzy has to admit 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 Boom’s award for the most wildlife friendly garden. You can see more about our approach to gardens on our Natural Gardens webpage 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 sustained 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 Tartendown Nurseries, and in Hayle the farm shop along Penpol Terrace 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.

Nature blog

In March 2012 we started a nature blog to record the changing seasons. To read it follow this link

An Acre Baker

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.

Trains are always convenient

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.

Shells and wildlife

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 two bands Wurlitza and Zoot Alor and numerous other small bands, and often play 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. 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, produced our St Germans Gallery 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.

Viaducts and sunset


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.

Our Awards

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. Here is a list of the awards we have been proud to win since 2013, in reverse order.

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;

  • 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.

    Mount Edgcumbe, only 6 miles from The Old Luggage Van and The Travelling Post Office, 
is host to the National Camelia Collection.
The mild Cornish climate and Mount Edgcumbe's stunning location surrounded on three sides 
by water at the entrance to Plymouth Sound ensures that these beautiful and diverse shrubs 
are at their best from early February.
The extensive gardens can be reached by public transport from St Germans, 
are open all year and admission is free.

    Contact Railholiday by email at office@railholiday.co.uk or by phone on (+44) 01503 230783. © Copyright 2018