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Author Topic: Eurostar to Europe,  (Read 1360 times)
rogerpatenall
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« on: November 12, 2018, 06:16:54 pm »

As encouraged by Grahame, these are my thoughts on the new Eurostar to Holland.

An annual visit to North East Holland (Gelderland) is usually overshadowed for me by the long drive from Dover or Dunkerque, as I get older! So I started to look at alternatives about three months ago. First research stop was Eurostar. Two seats on the Friday morning service from St Pancras to Rotterdam came up at £36 each. Seemed too good a deal to miss!. I was not enamoured with the proposed Eurostar return because of the enforced security change at Brussels. I did do that a while ago with hand luggage only. And there is no facility for sending luggage (ie my wife's shoes) in advance by freight train these days. But BA were offering Sunday evening singles from Rotterdam to London City for £38 each. Add to that ¢90 for three days car hire from Six, and it turned out to be an economical way of travelling.

Sadly, the Eurostar does not stop at Ebbsfleet, where boarding is a joy. Long queue at St Pancras for security which actually moved quite fast. British Border control were using new handheld passport readers which are considerably quicker than the old scanners. But the French control were still using the scanners, so overall there was no speed up.

Even with our bargain fares, thanks to American Express, we had access to the very nice lounge. Boarding was quick, and the train was packed. I do find the interior of the new Eurostar units quite claustrophobic due to the seat design. In contrast, standard class on Thalys is far more comfortable and less claustrophobic. But thats another story.

A random question. What do the two Train Managers do apart from walking through the train once?

Anyway. On time at Brussels for a very short stop. Then through Antwerp at 100 mph. On the Friday drive from the channel ports, getting around Antwerp is a nightmare at any time. So that was a bonus. A visit to the Metro cafe, which as usual left me thinking that there is nothing worth spending money on. If I were really rich, I would travel in a class that gave me a proper breakfast and a quarter bottle of Champagne. But for an extra £176 each, 'no thanks' was quite an easy decision.

Arrival at Rotterdam was, of course, spot on time. Most travellers seemed to be travelling through to Amsterdam. Restful, economic, and does exactly what it promises.

Saturday, whilst my wife was at her conference,I travelled from Arnhem to Utrecht on a German ICE, (an ICE3 I think?). Now these are comfortable, and light and roomy and the excellent coffee is no more than German high street price. And if you ever find yourselves in Utrecht, which I love, I can really recommend a visit to the Dutch National Railroad Museum.

Roll on Bordeaux or wherever the next destination may be, and I hope that Brexit doesn't scupper the easy border crossings.
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2018, 08:26:28 pm »

As encouraged by Grahame, these are my thoughts on the new Eurostar to Holland.

Very interesting read (and others are reading it too) - thank you Roger.   I have been a user of the Harwich - Hook ferry in the past - sleep as you cross; not so that remains a sensible balance with Eurostar beyond Brussels and Hook becoming a light rail not a train to an easy change at Rotterdam Central.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2018, 08:55:59 pm »

As encouraged by Grahame, these are my thoughts on the new Eurostar to Holland.

Very interesting read (and others are reading it too) - thank you Roger.   I have been a user of the Harwich - Hook ferry in the past - sleep as you cross; not so that remains a sensible balance with Eurostar beyond Brussels and Hook becoming a light rail not a train to an easy change at Rotterdam Central.

Used to go Harwich-Hoek ferries overnight services as a child every year in the 60s and 70s then onwards/return on the now non existent Holland Scandinavian Express to Hamburg. Found a very interesting book about the history of the Harwich Ferries but still looking for similar on the history of the express. It may never have been one of the classic European rail expresses but it had it's charms and is obviously of interest to me. Some other express routes leaving from Hoek each morning had rather more famous names such as the Rhinegold (I think) which became a TEE service at some stage with those iconic designs/liveries.
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rogerpatenall
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2018, 09:27:52 am »

Yes. I have looked enviously at the Harwich-Hook schedules, but my wife prefers not to (try to) sleep overnight on a ferry. And the Friday crossing would not get us to Hook in time for the conference start (She has to be there for the start). Besides, I will take any excuse for a train ride . . .
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2019, 03:05:27 am »

Rail Journal reports that as from 15th December, the direct service from London to Amsterdam that's been running for several years will be matched by a through service from Amsterdam to London, replacing the current service which has required passengers to change and go through a customs / immigration process in Brussels.

Quote
Direct services will begin operating between Amsterdam Central and London St Pancras on December 15, when the 2020 timetable comes into effect.

Currently passengers must disembark at Brussels South station to clear security and immigration before continuing their journey to London. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at London St Pancras.

Under the new arrangements, these checks will take place at Dutch stations.
Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, which will enable security and immigration checks to be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central.

Despite the agreement, the Dutch government says a no-deal Brexit would complicate customs arrangements for direct services between the Dutch and British capitals. French National Railways (SNCF) warned in July that a no-deal Brexit could even result in the temporary suspension of Eurostar services.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2019, 09:11:10 am »

Rail Journal reports that as from 15th December, the direct service from London to Amsterdam that's been running for several years will be matched by a through service from Amsterdam to London, replacing the current service which has required passengers to change and go through a customs / immigration process in Brussels.

Quote
Direct services will begin operating between Amsterdam Central and London St Pancras on December 15, when the 2020 timetable comes into effect.

Currently passengers must disembark at Brussels South station to clear security and immigration before continuing their journey to London. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at London St Pancras.

Under the new arrangements, these checks will take place at Dutch stations.
Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, which will enable security and immigration checks to be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central.

Despite the agreement, the Dutch government says a no-deal Brexit would complicate customs arrangements for direct services between the Dutch and British capitals. French National Railways (SNCF) warned in July that a no-deal Brexit could even result in the temporary suspension of Eurostar services.

I'd suggest paying very close attention to the final paragraph!
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stuving
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2019, 09:37:40 am »

Quote
...
Despite the agreement, the Dutch government says a no-deal Brexit would complicate customs arrangements for direct services between the Dutch and British capitals. French National Railways (SNCF) warned in July that a no-deal Brexit could even result in the temporary suspension of Eurostar services.

I'd suggest paying very close attention to the final paragraph!

Maybe - but in the longer term, the owners of Eurostar (SNCF, mainly) aren't being put off. This was from IRJ a couple of days ago:
Quote
Eurostar-Thalys merger proposal revealed
Sep 27, 2019
Written by David Briginshaw

PLANS to merge northwestern Europe’s two high-speed operators, Eurostar and Thalys, have been presented to the boards of their owners French National Railways (SNCF), Belgian National Railways (SNCB) and Patina Rail under the name Green Speed.

Eurostar and Thalys high-speed trains at Amsterdam Central.          Quintus Vosman

The two operators provide high-speed services linking Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and run 112 trains per day carrying more than 18.5 million passengers per year. They had a combined turnover of €1.67bn in 2018.

The Green Speed project has five objectives:
  •   to provide an attractive alternative to air and increase traffic to 30 million passengers a year by 2030
  •   to maximise the use of renewable energy for the combined train fleet and introduce an ambitious environmental policy regarding eco-driving of trains, waste management, removal of plastics, and sustainable purchasing
  •   to provide seamless travel for passengers with one ticket covering any journey across the network and better connections between trains
  •   to introduce attractive travel offers and a single passenger loyalty programme, and
  •   to provide a high standard of service quality.

The merger would reduce operating costs by combining the two operators’ information and distribution systems, and management of the train fleets, although Thalys trains are not permitted to use the Channel Tunnel as they do not meet its onerous safety and operating standards.

“The challenge of climate change and the demand for eco-responsible travel calls for an ambitious response,” says Mr Guillaume Pepy, president and CEO of SNCF. “Bringing together the strengths of Eurostar and Thalys would be a powerful response to this challenge. The creation of a combined European high-speed rail company would deliver a compelling alternative to road and air travel for our 18.5 million passengers and would herald a new era in the development of European high-speed rail services.”

“Thalys and Eurostar joining forces would come at the right time and could only be beneficial to all travellers,” says Ms Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of SNCB and chair of Thalys. “It would combine railway expertise with stable shareholders. Brussels would play a central role in this project as the hub for the various routes, linking all the cities that are served”.

“The creation of this major public transport platform would mark a milestone in European sustainable mobility,” says Mr Emmanuel Jaclot, executive vice-president and head of infrastructure with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) which jointly owns Patina Rail together with Hermes Infrastructure.

The Green Speed plan will now be put to the boards of the three owners of Eurostar and Thalys to seek their approval.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 11:43:39 am by Red Squirrel » Logged
rogerpatenall
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2019, 06:13:10 pm »

I had forgotten about this thread. Things have changed slightly and we are going to try the Harwich - Hook overnight ferry this year, on the Thursday night.

My plan for the Saturday this year is to go to Wuppertal. To travel on and photograph the 'hanging ' train has long been on my wish list.
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