Despite the many obstacles put in the way of train companies running high-speed trains between the UK and Europe, recently 2 consortiums have made public announcements of their plans to compete with Eurostar. While others have come and gone over the years, maybe this time we will eventually enjoy some real competition with a more frequent and cheaper service. Competition in recent years seems to have brought significant benefits to passengers using the high-speed lines in Spain and Italy. It remains to be seen whether any of these plans will see the light of day. On the 11th of October, EVOLYN (a Spanish-led consortium of various investors) announced plans to order 12 trains for a service through the channel tunnel
Earlier this month Georges Gilkenet the Belgian Transport Minister gave a very positive interview at the RailTech 2023 conference held in Brussels. He outlined the long-term commitment his Government has made to develop the rail network over the next 10 years. During the interview he made clear the importance of rail in helping the Belgian Government meet their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also confirmed his commitment to develop Brussels as a night train hub by announcing that night trains will pay no track access charges or energy costs in Belgium for the next 2 years. You can find out more here at: https://www.railtech.com/all/2023/06/09/belgian-minister-gilkinet-talks-rail-challenges-night-trains-and-more/, where he gave a 12-minute interview in English. This is in marked contrast to
Last October, we posted an item highlighting how Eurostar has been effectively strangled since the start in 1994 from reaching it’s full potential. We then sent letters to various media outlets based on this item – in case you missed it see the monthly news item on 12th October 2022 at https://www.eurorailcampaignuk.org/monthly-news/ . Although it was not picked up by the National Media it was published in full in the December issues of Modern Railways, Todays Railways-Europe and Railwatch. Later on, in early February another fortnightly publication called Rail covered the topic in 3 separate articles in the same edition, including one by Christian Woolmar in his regular column. These articles all explained how and why Eurostar could not charge
It will soon be 3 years before Kent lost its’ direct Eurostar services from Ashford and Ebbsfleet with no sign of them returning anytime soon. Since then, Kent residents have had to double back to London St Pancras and pay extra just to take a train across the channel to Europe. We are now asking Eurostar to offer free or reduced fares on the connecting HS1 services from Ashford International & Ebbsfleet to St Pancras run by South Eastern Trains. In the meantime, the choice of cross channel ferry services from Dover to Calais for foot passengers is substantially reduced. DFDS no longer take foot passengers on any of their services and P & O have limited foot passengers to
Before the Channel Tunnel opened in 1995, you could always buy a paper train ticket from most UK stations to most destinations all over Europe. Since the start of Eurostar services from London, it has become harder to buy a through ticket to many destinations beyond France, Belgium & The Netherlands. An easy connection at Brussels onto Germany is complicated by the fact that a Deutsche Bahn ticket for Germany is not valid on a Thalys (now part of Eurostar) service to Cologne. Thanks to rail campaigners all over Europe there is finally some hope on the horizon. Back in October, a formal agreement was announced by all main train operators across Europe that they will adapt their ticketing systems
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.