Eurostar has postponed its eagerly awaited London-Amsterdam service until early 2017.
The train firm, majority-owned by France’s SNCF, has confirmed the delay but has been unable to provide a reason.
The route had originally been scheduled to launch in December 2016 (see news, September 27).
Eurostar has planned a double-daily service, running right through from London to Amsterdam. The plan is to operate the route using the new Siemens trainsets scheduled to enter service before the end of this year.
The existing trainsets cannot be used because of different power and signalling systems in Holland. Existing trains are not equipped to handle the Dutch infrastructure and so are unable to operate beyond the Belgian-Dutch border.
Although the through-train will terminate in Amsterdam, there will be en route stops in Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol airport. The latter raised the possibility of being able to use Schiphol as an alternative to one of the London airports.
However, there were some minus points with these through trains, whose journey time between London and Amsterdam would be just over four hours, but longer on the return.
Passengers departing the UK would lose one hour (owing to the time change) although one hour travel time would be gained on the return.
But perhaps the biggest drawback would be the need to clear immigration and UK border controls (probably at Lille Europe) for passengers travelling between mainland Europe and the UK.
Passengers would have to disembark along with their luggage which would then be security screened as Channel Tunnel rules specify passenger luggage be screened before the train enters the tunnel. This process could take roughly one hour to complete, bearing in mind the new Siemens trainsets accommodate up to 900 passengers.