Image for What went right this week: a pan-European sleeper train, plus more

What went right this week: a pan-European sleeper train, plus more

Europe’s night train revival gathered steam, UK seaside towns got a boost, and a man with terminal cancer was cured, plus more

Europe’s night train revival gathered steam, UK seaside towns got a boost, and a man with terminal cancer was cured, plus more

This week’s positive news roundup

Positive news
A pan-European night train got the green light

Lunch in London, breakfast in Berlin, with a good night’s kip in between. That’s the promise of a new pan-European sleeper train, which got the green light this week. It’s set to launch in May, with plans to extend it to Prague from 2024. 

The Brussels to Berlin service will fill a significant gap in Europe’s burgeoning night train network, which is growing amid rising demand for sustainable travel options. 

“This route is ideal for Brits,” Mark Smith, founder of train travel website Man in Seat 61, told Positive News. “Leave London by Eurostar at 15:04, have a beer in Brussels, a night’s sleep, and you’re in downtown Berlin with a full day ahead of you. It’s time-effective – and saves a hotel bill.”

The service will be operated by European Sleeper, a Dutch-Belgian cooperative with plans to launch more nocturnal routes. Beds will cost from €79 (£69) one-way, with breakfast included. 

Image: European Sleeper

positive news
France moved to end fast-food waste

The French kicked off the new year with an ambitious resolution: to eliminate fast-food packaging. 

From this year, restaurant chains – including behemoths like Burger King and McDonald’s – must provide reusable tableware for meals consumed onsite, instead of serving food in disposable containers.

It’s thanks to a radical new law aimed at preventing 20bn pieces of cutlery, cups, plates and other single-use items from being chucked away annually. 

The move has been welcomed by waste campaigners, but according to Le Monde some restaurants were ill-prepared and are still serving meals in banished containers.

The law is part of the French government’s efforts to eliminate single-use plastic waste by 2040. 

Image: Lucas Van Oort

Positive news
Meanwhile in Spain…

Tobacco companies will have to pay to clean up cigarette butts from Friday, the Guardian reported this week. 

The Spanish government has not yet revealed how the cleanup will be implemented, or what it will cost tobacco companies, but it is estimated to be in the region of €1bn (£880m). 

Cigarette ends are among the most commonly littered items in Europe, and pose a danger to wildlife. The new environmental regulation also includes a ban on plastic straws and cutlery.

Image: Dorian

Positive news
A man with terminal cancer was cured

A man who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer is free of the disease thanks to a groundbreaking clinical trial. 

Robert Glynn (pictured) from Manchester, England, was given less than a year to live after doctors diagnosed him with biliary tract cancer, a rare cancer that forms in the bile ducts of the liver. 

Glynn’s cancer was at an advanced stage when he was referred to The Christie cancer centre in Manchester. There he enrolled on a clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug already approved for use in lung, kidney and oesophageal cancer. Immunotherapy works by helping the immune system identify and attack cancer. 

The treatment, together with chemotherapy, killed off all cancer cells. Scans show that Glynn is now clear of the disease. Research is ongoing, but the development could open new avenues of treatment for other patients. 

“It’s never over until it’s over,” said Glynn. “I feel very lucky. When something like this happens you realise life is for living.”

Image: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Positive news
The Dutch cast a critical eye on biomass

In a European first, the Dutch government has pledged to stop paying subsidies to wood pellet manufacturers unless they can back up their sustainability claims.

Burning wood pellets is dubiously touted as a sustainable form of renewable energy. But an investigation by Mongabay, a US news platform, discredited the green credentials of one of the world’s largest producers of wood pellets. The firm denies claims against it. 

The investigation promoted the Dutch government to agree to pull subsidies for wood pellet companies that can’t back up their eco credentials. 

The move follows Australia’s decision to amend its renewable energy policy to exclude wood biomass from native forests as a renewable energy source.

Image: Mika Korhonen

The UK’s seaside towns got a boost

Seaside towns that fell out of favour when Britons embraced foreign holidays are among those benefitting from changing work habits. 

That’s according to analysis of UK phone data, conducted by PlaceMake.io and Visitor Insights. It suggests that Tuesday to Thursday is the new office week, and that home working is encouraging more people to engage with their community. 

Many people quit big cities for small towns during the pandemic. And while some urban centres have taken a hit, notably central London, the trend has provided a shot in the arm for some towns. 

“Residents are spending more time at home and in their communities, and finding that they can do quite a lot without needing to venture too far,” said Chlump Chatkupt, founder of PlaceMake.io.

Places that have thrived offer “varied and meaningful reasons to visit” beyond simply retail or office space, added Chatkupt. Morecambe (pictured), Skegness and Folkestone are among the towns that recorded the biggest increase in high street footfall.

Read more: 10 ways to save the high street

Image: Jonny Gios

A mysterious mosaicist turned urban decay into art

A Banksy-style street artist is turning urban decay into something beautiful, while making Europe’s streets safer for pedestrians.

Describing himself as a “bitumen mender, sidewalk poet and macadam surgeon”, Lyon-based Ememem has been filling in potholes with colourful mosaics. His artworks have appeared across the continent.

But while his creations are becoming increasingly visible, the artist himself remains incognito. Get the full Positive News story here. 

Image: Ememem

New Year resolutions
And for those looking to turn over a new leaf…

Looking for a New Year’s resolution that you might actually stick to?

Forget crash diets and expensive gym memberships because this week we identified eight small but impactful habits to help readers boost wellbeing and creativity in 2023. 

Each habit represents a small step change rather than a radical lifestyle overhaul, the likes of which are unlikely to last till the end of January.

Read more here.

Image: SolStock/iStock
Main image: Den Belitsky/iStock  

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What went right previously

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