Since Eurostar launched its high-speed (HS) trains from London Waterloo in 1994, its core network hasn’t overly changed.
True Eurostar has added Amsterdam plus seasonal services during summer and winter.
But travellers bemoan the fact there are no direct services further afield to Germany, Switzerland and so on.
Now I can reveal that Eurostar’s merger with Thalys maybe about to bear fruit.
A survey by HS1 (the line linking London to the Tunnel) conducted by Opinium Research found that 81 per cent of people would be more likely to take the train to mainland Europe for work if more routes were available.
For leisure travel the figure was 86 per cent.
This survey covered 1,000 people who have travelled for business within the last five years.
‘Flight shame’ has doubtless lead to more travellers opting for the train over the plane.
In addition the pandemic has highlighted the need to take more sustainable options.
Typical new routes would extend beyond Brussels to Germany and beyond, as unlike the original Alstom units those of Siemens can operate into Germany.
Says Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Limited,
“HS1 is the Green Gateway to Europe, and as we look to recover and grow post Covid-19, we’ll be working tirelessly to deliver more routes on our line into Europe.”
I ought to point out that HS1 welcomes more trains because each pays a toll fee to use the infrastructure.
What about Eurostar and Thalys? French media reports on the ‘fusion’ between the two operators.
It is expected London will have through services to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund.
Services to Bordeaux, Antwerp and Liege are also planned.
Indeed plans for-Bordeaux were revealed in early 2020 … but then Covid-19 arrived.
As for the others there’s an issue with finding space for the terminals.
That’s not a problem for those travellers departing London (and the two Kent stations currently unserved by Eurostar) but it’s an issue on the return.
UK Border insists all UK-bound travellers be pre-cleared before the train enters the Tunnel.
And that is where the problem lies. It is also unclear who would pay for the terminals and their staffing.
In the short term travellers departing Germany for the UK could be pre-cleared at Brussels Midi (as was the case before UK Border approved the Amsterdam terminal) or Lille. But this is not a long term solution.
We await developments with interest.