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
EUROPEAN PASSENGER FEDERATION(EPF) 20th ANNIVERSARY EVENT On January 13th the European Passengers’ Federation (of which ERC(UK) is an associate member) marked its 20th birthday with a special event at the European Parliament in Brussels. ERC(UK) and the German association PROBAHN helped sponsor the event, and two of our members attended along with 35 other colleagues from Continental public transport users’ associations, lobbyists and decision-makers. The event was hosted by Irish MEP Ciaran Cuffe and speakers included representatives of the Community of European Railways, ALLRAIL plus train campaigner and blogger Jon Worth. Topics covered in the presentations and discussion embraced cross-border services and passenger rights. For a full report see: http://www.epf.eu/wp/epf-celebrates-turning-20/ TO EUROPE BY RAIL/SEA/RAIL One of the few convenient links to Europe
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.
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.
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
Please sign this petition which asks the UK Government to give Eurostar the same financial support as given to the airlines. See https://www.change.org/p/grant-shapps-ensure-we-have-a-green-link-to-europe-support-eurostar-fdef3b98-c843-40c4-9060-0d1dc81fbb5f