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Winners announced in the 2014 Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel

Gloucestershire-based green energy company, Ecotricity, and public transport authority, Tisséo-SMTC from Toulouse, have beaten off stiff competition from over 100 sustainable travel projects in the UK, France and Belgium to win the 2014 Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel.

The joint winners were selected for their successful and innovative sustainable travel projects, and will share £30,000 in prize money to invest in expanding the reach of their schemes.

Ecotricity was chosen for its success in kick-starting the uptake of electric cars in the UK. Eco entrepreneur and founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince, set out to eliminate one of the biggest barriers to uptake by creating a new ‘Electric Highway’ of extensive charging points across Britain. This network, placed across the UK motorway system, has dramatically extended the geographical reach of electric vehicles and in the last 12 months electric cars using it have clocked up more than half a million miles.

To meet the growing demand for fast charging points - Ecotricity expects the network to hit the million mark later this year -  Ecotricity has committed to installing them at every motorway service station in Britain by the end of 2014, enabling drivers to fully charge their vehicles in 20-30 minutes, as well as doubling the numbers of chargers at each location. In addition, the enterprise is rolling out new technology to cater for all electrical charging standards, allowing a range of new models to use the network.

Public Transport authority, Tisséo-SMTC, impressed the judges with data showing phenomenal growth in the use of public transport in Toulouse - France’s fourth largest city. Tisser means ‘to weave’ in French, and this is at the heart of Tisséo’s plan, weaving together a comprehensive web of sustainable transport options to create a low-carbon travel network. Tisséo also works with businesses to help them engage employees in sustainable transport whether it’s car sharing schemes, cycling or new bus or tram routes.

Tisséo-SMTC’s use of integrated smart ticketing, work to expand the public transport network and work to support businesses has increased the number of public transport journeys by 80% from 2006 to 2013. Public transport usage in Toulouse is now the fourth highest  in France, demonstrating a dramatic rise from seventh position in 2006.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar said; “Entries this year were of an exceptionally high calibre,  however, Ecotricity and Tisséo stood out for their innovative approaches and the outstanding results they delivered. Ecotricity has kick started the uptake of electric cars through its ‘Electric Highway’ and Tisséo’s integrated public transport network has revolutionised travel in the city. We cannot underestimate the impact of these projects and their role in helping to reduce the environmental impact of travel. We hope that by celebrating their achievements we will inspire more people to consider the environment when making their own travel choices.”

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Founder Director said: “We’re very excited to award two very different, but equally important initiatives. It is fantastic to see the city of Toulouse show that it’s possible to achieve a staggering reduction in car travel. It is also very exciting to see Ecotricity create the first Electric Highway and by so doing, making it now a very viable option to have an electric vehicle.”

François Barbier, Tisséo-SMTC said:
“It is with great pride that we receive the Ashden Award. This prize will enable us to continue to improve the quality of our service and to embrace innovation by designing new tools for the companies we collaborate with.”   

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said:
“With the Electric Highway, we’re putting the infrastructure in place so that electric vehicles become a logical choice for drivers in Britain. More and more people are now going electric, and awards like Ashden are a great way of getting the message out further.”

The Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel, now in its their third year, recognises innovative travel schemes which encourage people to adopt more sustainable ways of travelling, helping improve quality of life whilst reducing congestion, pollution, and CO2 emissions. The Awards are part of Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme to reduce the business’ impact on the environment and encourage people to switch to more sustainable modes of transport.

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