More direct Eurostar services to be created, including western France and German cities – helping cut flights
At present, travellers to Amsterdam by Eurostar have a direct trip on the way out, but have to change at Brussels on the return, for security, customs and immigration checks. This is now to change. Direct services will start, between Amsterdam and St Pancras on December 15th. In future these checks will take place at Dutch stations. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at St Pancras, and that will continue. Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, so security and immigration checks can be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central. Another change, helping more travellers to use rail rather than flying, is that Eurostar plans to merge with another operator, enabling direct train services and an integrated network covering 5 countries. With the new system, a direct rail journey from London to Bordeaux would take about four-and-a-half hours. There would also be direct trains to Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund. Already in summer there are trains to Marseilles. The number of passengers across the combined network might rise by by two thirds over the next 10 years, from 18.5 million to 30 million.
Customs agreement reached for Amsterdam – London Eurostar services
Sep 26, 2019
Written by Quintus Vosman (International Railway Journal)
STATE secretary to the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, Mrs Ankie Broekers-Knol, informed the country’s parliament on September 25 that an agreement has been achieved between the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Britain on customs and security arrangements for Amsterdam – London Eurostar services.
Direct services will begin operating between Amsterdam Central and London St Pancras on December 15, when the 2020 timetable comes into effect.
Currently passengers must disembark at Brussels South station to clear security and immigration before continuing their journey to London. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at London St Pancras.
Under the new arrangements, these checks will take place at Dutch stations.
Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, which will enable security and immigration checks to be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central.
Despite the agreement, the Dutch government says a no-deal Brexit would complicate customs arrangements for direct services between the Dutch and British capitals. French National Railways (SNCF) warned in July that a no-deal Brexit could even result in the temporary suspension of Eurostar services.
Eurostar launched London – Amsterdam services in April 2018 and added a third daily train in June this year.
Eurostar plan for high-speed trains direct to Germany
By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
Adam Sage, Paris
September 27 2019
The plan is being driven by SNCF, which owns a majority stake in Eurostar
Rail passengers will be able to travel direct from London to Germany and southwest France for the first time under plans for a high-speed network.
In a project announced yesterday Eurostar, the cross-Channel train company, could merge with a rival operator on the Continent to create an integrated network spanning five countries.
The plan is designed to capitalise on environmental concerns over air travel by giving more passengers a sustainable alternative to air travel. A direct rail journey from London to Bordeaux would take about four-and-a-half hours.
Forecasts drawn up by company bosses suggest it could boost the number of passengers across the combined network by two thirds over the next decade, from 18.5 million to 30 million.
The project, codenamed Green Speed, combines Eurostar with Thalys, the state-owned high-speed rail operator running between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Eurostar, which operates out of St Pancras station, connects London with Calais, Paris, Lille, Lyons, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, with additional summer trains directly to Marseilles and winter services to the Alps.
Under the new network British passengers will also be able to travel directly to Germany, with trains reaching destinations in the north of the country including Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund.
Trains will also be able to reach Bordeaux and there will be additional direct services to the French Alps and cities in Belgium including Antwerp and Liège.
The plan is being led by SNCF, France’s state railway operator, which owns majority stakes in Eurostar and Thalys and wants a majority in the merged group. SNCF presented proposals yesterday to its board and to SNCB, the Belgian rail operator, and Patina Rail, an Anglo-Canadian consortium that has a minority stake in Eurostar.
Proponents of the merger say the same trains could run on lines operated by Eurostar and Thalys, simplifying journeys between London and the Continent and enabling passengers to travel on a single ticket.
“We have 25 trains in each [unit] and they are not interchangeable,” said Rachel Picard, managing director of Voyages SNCF, the operator’s high speed division. “A Eurostar cannot run in Germany and a Thalys can’t go through the [Channel] tunnel. That creates a certain weakness.
“By putting them together, it will be easier to have equipment at our disposition and the effects of critical mass which will enable us to optimise our resources while increasing our offer.”
The companies denied it would lead to job losses on Eurostar, insisting more staff would be needed.
The merger would need approval from the European Commission, which refused a planned tie-up of France’s Alstom and Germany’s Siemens to create a train-making giant this year.
Guillaume Pepy, chairman of SNCF and Eurostar, said: “The challenge of climate change and the demand for eco-responsible travel calls for an ambitious response. The creation of a combined European high-speed rail company would deliver a compelling alternative to road and air travel for our 18.5 million passengers and would herald a new era in the development of European high-speed rail services.”