A greener way to travel
Everyone's talking about reducing their "carbon footprint" these days. Whenever we heat our homes, turn on a light or drive our cars, we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Of course this is not a new problem, but it doesn't appear to be getting any better either.
Rail travel is already one of the most environmentally-friendly ways of travelling. Most European services are powered by electricity, reducing both local air pollution and the amount of carbon dioxide generated overall.
Furthermore, Eurostar has become the first rail operator to become officially "Carbon Neutral", whilst in mountainous countries like Switzerland, trains actually return electricity to the grid whilst travelling downhill - on some routes this means the net power usage is close to zero.
All tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economic impact on the destinations involved, and we recognise our duty to respect and preserve the culture of the places we visit.Rail Discoveries takes this responsibility seriously and, as a member of the Great Rail Journeys Group of Companies, we have been awarded AITO's 4-star status in recognition of our commitment to the Sustainable Tourism policy. Rail travel is one of the most ecologically-friendly means of transport and using trains as much as possible during our holidays is one way we endeavour to minimise the negative effects of tourism on our environment.
Our Sustainable Tourism practices extend to our Head Office, where we try to minimise pollution and energy loss, and conserve natural resources by recycling products wherever possible.
Further information on Sustainable Tourism is available at www.aito.com.
Offset your CO2 emissions
When it comes to carbon dioxide, we all unknowingly over-indulge. Each time we heat our homes or drive the car, CO2 is added into the atmosphere. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions like CO2 and prevent further damage to the atmosphere we all need to work towards a low-carbon lifestyle. This responsibility applies as much when we travel and particularly when we fly. As well as taking steps to reduce your 'carbon footprint' you can neutralise or 'offset' the adverse impact of your flight. Carbon offsetting means donating money to projects, specifically set up with the aim of reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere on your behalf, thus making your air travel 'carbon neutral'. In this way we can counteract the damage we cause. Projects include:
- Renewable energy - this replaces non-renewable fuel such as coal
- Energy efficiency - this reduces the amount of fuel needed
- Forest restoration - this absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as the trees grow
You may wish to offset your CO2 emissions using our preferred Offset Partner, Climate Care. To calculate the impact of your flights, use the Air Travel Calculator on their website. Your donation, entirely voluntary, may be much less than you think - for example, to offset one person's flight from Athens to London will cost just £2.33.
As a business, we pledge to offset the carbon emissions generated by the air travel of our Tour Managers, plus the emissions generated by the business air travel undertaken by our office staff whilst researching our worldwide holidays.
Air Travel Organisers' Licencing (ATOL)
Your Financial Protection
The air holiday packages in on this website are ATOL protected with the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 3278. Please see our booking conditions for more information.
ATOL, which is part of the CAA, is a financial protection scheme for UK tour operators and protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad in the unlikely event of our insolvency. All monies paid to us in advance for a booking will be refunded and, if necessary, arrangements will be made for your repatriation back to the UK.
ATOL Protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For more information about ATOL visit and for information about the CAA, visit http://www.caa.co.uk/ or call 020 7453 6424.
The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)
As a member of the Great Rail Journeys Group of Companies, Rail Discoveries bookings are covered by the Association of Independent Tour Operators, an organisation representing over 150 of Britain's best specialist tour operators. Members of AITO strive to create holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality, personal service and customer satisfaction. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating and all members are fully bonded for clients' protection, in compliance with UK and European regulations. Great Rail Journeys Group - like all other AITO members - are also bound by the organisation's Quality Charter.
The AITO Quality Charter
AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. All members are required to adhere to a Code of Business Practice which encourages high operational standards and conduct.
An AITO member is required to protect money paid by customers to the member for any holiday sold under the AITO logo. This protection applies to customers who are in the UK at the time of booking or to overseas customers who have booked directly with the member. Members have to comply with UK Government Regulations in this respect. Members submit details of their bonding or guarantee arrangements to the Association on a regular basis.
Accurate Brochures and Websites
All members do their utmost to ensure that all their brochures and other publications, print or electronic, clearly and accurately describe the holidays and services offered.
Professional Service and Continual Improvements
All members are committed to high standards of service and believe in regular and thorough training of employees. Members continually seek to review and improve their holidays. They listen to their customers and always welcome suggestions for improving standards.
AITO endeavours to monitor quality standards regularly. All customers should receive a post-holiday questionnaire, the results of which are scrutinised by the Association.
All members acknowledge the importance of AITO's Sustainable Tourism guidelines, which recognise the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating. Those demonstrating their achievements beyond the pure acceptance of this principle are recognised by the award of 3, 4 or 5 star status.
All members endeavour to deal swiftly and fairly with any issues their customers may raise. In the unlikely event that a dispute between an AITO member and a customer cannot be settled amicably, AITO's low-cost Independent Dispute Settlement Service may be called upon by either side to bring the matter to a speedy and acceptable conclusion.
For further information about AITO visit www.aito.com or call 0208 744 9280.
Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
Rail Discoveries, as a member of the Great Rail Journeys Group of Companies, is a tour operator member of ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, and our ABTA number is V2170. ABTA's main aims are to maintain high standards of trading practice for the benefit of its members, the travel industry at large and the consumers they serve. Both ABTA and its members help holidaymakers to get the most from their travel and assist them when things do not go according to plan.
As an ABTA member, we are obliged to follow the organisation's Code of Conduct. This ensures that our customers receive a high standard of service, fair terms of trading, and clear and accurate information on issues such as passports and visas, health requirements, and details of any alterations to your holiday. In the event of things going wrong, the Code of Conduct ensures that we respond to any complaint within strict time limits.
For further information about ABTA, the Code of Conduct and also the independent arbitration scheme available to customers if you have a complaint visit http://abta.com/ or call 020 3117 0500. Alternatively, ABTA may be contacted at the following address:
30 Park Street
Cruise Lines International Association
We are proud to be members of CLIA - the Cruise Lines International Association (formerly known as ACE - the Association of Cruise Experts).
CLIA is an award-winning organisation endorsed by 30 of the world's leading cruise lines, which provides its 12,000 travel agent and tour operator members with expert training and support. This ensures you can book a cruising by rail holiday with Rail Discoveries in absolute confidence, knowing the information and advice you receive is fully representative of the experience you will enjoy.