As we face a Climate Emergency, why is it still so hard and expensive to use Eurostar-the greenest way to travel to and from Europe? Eurostar has been continually ” strangled” ever since its birth when the first train ran through the Channel Tunnel in November 1994. The responsibility for all this clearly lies with the UK Government. This is mainly due to their ideological obsession of privatising all major infrastructure projects. How has this happened ? 1 – The track access charges per kilometer that Eurostar has to pay to the owners of the Channel Tunnel have always been set much higher than the average across Europe. 2 – The need for all passengers to go through airport style
Kent must no longer be cut off from the High Speed European Rail Network. As Eurostar is now running a very busy full service from London St Pancras, it is now high time they re-opened Ashford International, which has regular interval local train connections to most parts of Kent. Opening up Ashford will help to relieve the pressure on the terminal at St Pancras, which has been struggling to deal with the large number of passengers having to go through the extra Post-Brexit border controls.
Thanks to investment in the High-Speed Network, for several years it has been possible to take daytime trains from London to many parts of Northern and Eastern Spain. This is not quite so easy for those living further away from London or not wanting a long daytime journey with one or more changes along the way. However, there are many places along the way which could make a very pleasant stop-over to break up the journey. Have a look at this link for some interesting ideas :- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGR3ipqyjes&list=PL8w-BAm7lVzfnTCJauwicMo0-eeYPkE0h
HS1 Ltd who are the owners of the High Speed Rail Link from London to the Channel Tunnel recently conducted market research into how business people would prefer to travel to and from key European destinations. Their research concluded that an overwhelming majority of around 80 % would consider travel by train if a suitably attractive offer was available compared to air. They also concluded that people wanted to take the train to a greater range of destinations than are possible at the moment, whether for leisure or business purposes. Bordeaux, Frankfurt and Prague were suggested as destinations that can be easily reached from London using HS1 and the High Speed Network across Europe. For further information see a recent
If you did not travel by car until a few weeks ago, you could still travel from Dover to Calais as a foot passenger on a limited number of sailings with P & O Ferries. Since their sailings were suspended by the Department of Transport on safety grounds at the end of March non-car drivers again have no easy way to travel to/from the European mainland. We are calling on Eurostar to re-start their services from Ashford International as soon as possible and the UK Department of Transport of transport in the meantime to arrange and publicise suitable coach connections between Ashford and Calais/Lille using the Eurotunnel shuttle.
Many European Train Operators have recently announced free train travel for all Ukrainians seeking asylum in The EU. We therefore call on the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh & Northern Ireland Assemblies and Eurostar to do the same until further notice for all Ukrainians seeking asylum in the UK.
At last – Eurostar our only direct rail link to Europe is now running more frequent services, even if the fares on offer are not as cheap as before the pandemic. There are now around 10 services/daily to Paris, 3-4 to Brussels & Lille and 2 to Amsterdam. Ideally there should be an hourly service to Paris and at least one train every 2 hours to Brussels to make it easy to connect into other services to/from Paris & Brussels. We now look forward to Eurostar restoring services at Ashford International.
For many years Brussels has been the best place to make easy daytime connections from Eurostar into Germany & beyond. The Belgian Government have recently announced they will be spending up to 2 million Euros, to see how Brussels can be used to accommodate the growing number of night trains planned in the next few years. For further information see: https://www.bruzz.be/mobiliteit/twee-miljoen-voor-uitbouw-van-brussel-als-nachttreinhub-2021-10-14
Our campaign got more publicity this month in the letters page of Rail Magazine – here is the text of our letter which was printed in full: The special report from HS1 Ltd published in Rail 938 could be seen as a load of “Greenwash”. They publish a lot of sustainability statistics for 2020-21 which look good on paper but do nothing for the modal shift they claim to want to achieve. For example, the 14% reduction in electricity use is hardly surprising given the reduced number of Eurostar and Javelin trains using the line due to the Covid pandemic. While they are clearly doing a lot of charitable work with other organizations, none of this is likely to result
Kent is the closest UK region to Europe. Since the Covid outbreak in Spring 2020, when Eurostar stopped serving Ashford and Ebbsfleet, there has been no direct rail link to France & beyond. You cannot even take a train and ferry via Dover and Calais, as the ferry companies now refuse to accept foot passengers and no longer run connecting buses between the ports and the train stations. Unless you drive a car, you are forced to travel to London & back adding extra time and cost to your journey. Given the Climate Emergency it is ridiculous that the low carbon travel option is not available for Kent residents. One interim solution could be for South-east Trains to sponsor a