Eurostar suspends Amsterdam ticket sales
Published: 10/01/2013 - Filed under: News »
As a number of current forum threads indicate, there is an issue with international rail ticketing.
It is a particular problem for UK-based travellers because we rely on Eurostar to take us to mainland Europe. And the Eurostar booking system is not compatible with the systems of certain other rail networks.
Now comes news that Eurostar has suspended the sale of London-Amsterdam (via Brussels) tickets through its website. This must be causing confusion for would-be travellers as eurostar.com continues to include The Netherlands in its list of destinations. There are also pictures of Dutch clogs, canal scenes and so on.
But when you attempt to make a booking, passengers see an error page.
Previously Eurostar passengers would travel to Brussels Midi and switch to either high-speed Thalys or regular trains for the final sector to Amsterdam.
But the launch of Fyra last December (see online news December 5) led to the ending of the normal but slower Brussels-Amsterdam trains.
This development has caused ticketing problems for Eurostar, which confirms that it is not at present selling tickets to Amsterdam or any Dutch destination. A spokesperson told Business Traveller,
“We are currently in discussion with both Thalys and Fyra regarding arrangements for travel between London, Amsterdam and beyond into the Netherlands. We hope to be able to offer an update on arrangements in the near future.”
“In the interim, our advice to passengers is to book tickets for travel between London and the Netherlands via Rail Europe (raileurope.co.uk)”
Mark Smith, founder of rail enthusiast’s website seat61.com told Business Traveller, “Amsterdam is a sizeable market. These problems are a wasted opportunity for rail.”
Report by Alex McWhirter
RCinBelper - 17/01/2013 18:30
It's a real shame that the hourly Benelux trains have ceased. These were particularly useful for destinations other than those served by Fyra.
For those with patience, there is still an hourly stopping train from Antwerpen to Roosendaal (just over the border from Belgium) which connects for stations to Vlissingen or North onto NS (Dutch Railways) Intercity trains to Amsterdam. It is also easy to get to Maastricht which again involves changing onto an hourly stopping service, this time with a change in Liege.
Both Antwerpen and Liege are easy to get to from Brussels. I normally buy a Eurostar 'any Belgian station' ticket and then ask the conductor on the connecting local train to sell me a ticket for the last few miles over the border. Sometimes they do and sometimes they are happy to let you off the fare. These options also apply from Brussels Airport.
The NS and SNCB (Belgian Railways) websites are generally unhelpful for international journeys so go to DB (German Railways) which is www.bahn.de. The NS website (www.ns.nl) though is good for the complete journey - you can enter the postcode of your destination and it'll give you connecting buses etc.
Havng said all this, Fyra has been years in the planning followed by years of delays in introducing the service (never buy trains built in Italy) so it is PP that this hasn't been sorted earlier.
As I write (from Maastricht), it doesn't really matter as NS have pulled the whole service due to some technical issue that I should really google to find out a bit more about. RC
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