Eurostar customers who live outside London or Kent itself now have no alternative but to use London St Pancras.
In what can only be described as a shock decision Eurostar has announced that it will not be serving Ebbsfleet or Ashford until 2022.
Former communications director for Eurostar Paul Charles tweeted:
In shock at news from the fabulous @Eurostar – they say “unprecedented fall in demand, exacerbated by #quarantine restrictions affecting their markets, means they have taken the difficult decision not to re-open Ashford and Ebbsfleet stations before 2022.” Yes, 2022. #coronavirus
— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) September 3, 2020
Notice that I mentioned “outside London” above. Yes I realise Ebbsfleet is also in Kent but its easy access to the M25 motorway means it attracts Eurostar customers (those who take their cars) from Essex and areas to the South, Southeast and Southwest of the capital.
Eurostar has suffered a major fall in traffic seeing as travellers returning to the UK from all its mainland European points must undergo quarantine.
As with its Marseilles service, some people are questioning why Eurostar is taking so long to restart service.
Quoted by Kent Online, Ashford’s MP Damian Green said the decision “is clearly very bad news. They [Eurostar] say they are not going to reopen the stations this year or in 2021″.
“I am now getting on to the Transport Secretary to see if there is anything the government can do – it’s a blow for Kent.”
It means that all Eurostar customers have no option but to travel from London St Pancras.
General secretary of the TSSA union, Manuel Cortes, has urged the government to intervene.
In a statement provided to Business Traveller, Eurostar said:
“Covid-19 has had a severe impact on the travel industry and on our business and we continue to operate in very challenging conditions. We have experienced an unprecedented fall in demand, with bookings down by 90 per cent compared to last year.
“The environment remains very unpredictable and has been exacerbated by quarantine restrictions which are now across all of our markets.
“Given the uncertain outlook, it is crucial that we adapt and take action to reduce our costs so that we protect our business for the future.
“In 2021, therefore, we will reduce our timetable, focusing only on our core routes and destinations where we see the highest demand.
“As a result, we have had to make the very difficult decision not to reopen Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International stations before 2022.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and have given this considerable thought but given the severity of the situation we have to take action.”