The connection in Brussels is a bit annoying: you only have to change platforms but you have to wait at least 30 min. Removing that connection is I believe critical, as it will gradually save time over the next few years.
The Paris and London Eurostar terminals are nice. The Brussels one is a bit dark and only for 2 platforms. The Lille is alright actually, and only for 1 platform. I'm not sure where they would put it in Amsterdam though (and that might be the cause of the delay). The current Thalys to Brussels always uses the same half platform, but it might be tricky to reserve it for a Eurostar that only travels twice a day. Also, the Amsterdam station has expanded its shopping centre, which leaves little space for a decently-sized Eurostar terminal. I'm intrigued at where they're gonna put it! Maybe build an extension on the water?
For the most part, the train is for me a better experience: less busy than a plane, decent internet, better seats, which all means I can actually work on my laptop. You simply pay a premium for this convenience.
I think both the plane and train markets serve different purposes: cheap but cumbersome or expensive but comfortable.
I think not having a "decently-sized terminal" is a much better approach. If I remember correctly (haven't taken a train across a non-Schengen border for a long time now, but https://travel.stackexchange.com/a/18563 seems to confirm), customs handling often happened on the train - the officers board the train at the last stop of country 1, do their passport checking etc. while the train was going to the first stop of country 2, and get off there.
Any move towards anything that would require a "terminal" as opposed to a platform will (on in the case of the Eurostar, was) just be the first step in making train travel as uncomfortable as air travel is today.
The Eurostar web site already mentions that you should be checking in 30 minutes in advance. I remember seeing the security checkpoint in London, shaking my head, and hoping this would not spread to other train lines.
Ultimately British politics has driven all of this: it's much easier, legally, to refuse someone without documentation at the UK border control in France (or Belgium, or in the future Holland) than it is when they claim asylum upon arrival in the UK.
Another interesting detail. I'm told that the Eurostar uses a train signalling system that is incompatible with the one used on the Dutch railways. Which basically means that they have to lock out the entire section between Amsterdam CS and the start of the HSL just to let one Eurostar go through.
For example I just looked up the fares for a weekend trip Brussel - London on the coming weekend. Leaving after work on Friday, getting back Sunday evening.
Eurostar: Brussel to London: 17:56 19:03
London to Brussel: 19:34 22:38
Cheapast Flight (Brussels Airlines): 16:55 17:05
You have a very expansive definition of "nice".
St. Pancras station in London is quite nice. Gare du Nord station in Paris--not so much.
Gare du Nord gets, at best, the appellation of "workaday"--it's functional, mostly, but would not really appear on anybody's list of somewhere "nice".
It's a wonderful building, both inside and out. I think it's one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe. Neo-gothic and wrought iron.
Image search: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=st+pancras+international&t...
Gare du Nord is architecturally pretty average for Paris, ie beautiful, at least from the outside. The shopping is disappointing: the best bakery for a last-thing-you-eat-in-France snack is a Paul, of which there are dozens in London anyway. Security is again pretty quick, and past it there are some comfortable enough chairs, and some overpriced and fairly useless shops.
The atmosphere inside St Pancras is better than inside Gare do Nord - it's brighter and arier. That's pretty much the only difference, though.
There's also a metro connection between the two (one station) that is accessible for the disabled (... or people with heavy luggage) and that is free if you have a valid train ticket although it's not advertised anywhere.
A London to Amsterdam is currently 4 hours and 38 minutes (incl. a 47min change in Brussels). With a propre planning between Eurostar and Thalys, the route could be done in less than four hours.
Taking a flight, on the contrary, will likely be much longer if you include the time to go to the airport, arrive 90 minutes in advance, and the time to leave airport in Amsterdam. Eurostar seem to have a clear advantage here, with prices often competitive, especially if you include Snap tickets.
This was influenced by us living in South London (Brixton). If we'd been closer to St Pancras / further from the airport, the math may have differed.
Seriously, who builds these American trains? And when were they built?
London to Paris by Eurostar are routinely advertised as "from £29", but are usually £300+ return for a weekend.
Whereas flights are often sub-£100.
Eurostar has no competition except the airlines. Businesses will fork out for the tickets as you can't beat the time savings on the Paris route.
It will be interesting when Deutsche Bahn start using the line.
I'm not sure the current status, but there's presumably a lot of upgrades happening on the Northeast Corridor, in part just to update old infrastructure and in part because it's near capacity at certain times. It's also the region that makes all the money that's then lost in pretty much the whole rest of the country.
Here in south eastern Canada to fly less than 100km from my town to the largest city (Halifax) costs about $500. Passenger trains are not common and any available are old and slow.
I wish we could have a fast rail service here but it would be very expensive to build.
The driving route is 400km across a strait taking a toll bridge or ferry. The ferry is the shorter route but it shuts down in the winter.
The Eurostar trip itself was pretty pleasant booking it on the otherhand not so much.
I should have purchased the tickets well in advance before leaving Australia instead I left it until the last minute - I blame bad advice from my agent who basically told me. "Oh you can just rock up to train station on the day purchase a ticket to Paris, no big deal".
In Amsterdam I was advised that I may not be allowed into the UK unless I could show them I had a departure booked. So I had to buy the Eurostar ticket in a rush. Eurostar website did something weird with my credit card tripped up some sort of Fraud detection or something Triggered 2FA check with my Australian bank. Bank's text message went to my Australian SIM which of course was inaccessible from Amsterdam. I'd used this credit card all over Europe for 5 weeks up until this point with 0 issues I have no idea what it was about Eurostar site that triped their fraud detection. I had a backup prepaid Visa debit card which the Eurostar site also refused to accept. I ended up ringing friend of mine who lives in Rome in a panic and he was able to order tickets for me.
Border Control did ask how I was planing on leaving the UK I told them Eurostar and they waved me through without asking to see the physical ticket.
The £29 one way tickets do go really quickly yes.
Is it security and border control that slows things down?
It’s more complex than sticking carriages together!
My experience is really bad.
Links: https://faq.eurostar.com/faq/uk-en/question/What-is-Eurostar..., https://faq.eurostar.com/faq/uk-en/question/Can-I-get-a-refu...
I always appreciate it when journalists choose to add some verve to their prose.
As I see it, once the twice-daily London-Amsterdam Eurostar service starts in April:
- To the 3h41 train travel time, allow at least an hour to get through the London Eurostar bag/passport checks. On a good day it can be 20 minutes but you have to plan for the worst case of an hour. Then once you are departure-side, the cafes have massive queues and there is a scramble for seats.
- Compare that with London City Airport, where getting airside usually takes 5-15 minutes, queues for cafes are short to non-existent, and there's more seating where you can do useful work, etc.
- Then Eurostar has just two departures a day. Great if those times suits you. Not great otherwise. LCY has at least three airlines flying to Amsterdam (BA, KLM, CityJet, maybe FlyBE), giving roughly hourly departure options.
- In my particular case, I work at Canary Wharf. So if I fly back from Amsterdam on a Monday morning, I am at my desk 20 minutes after the plane touches down at LCY.
Anyway, in April my partner and I plan to try Eurostar for the London-Amsterdam direction. We will continue to fly back Schiphol to LCY, to avoid the change of trains in Brussels on the reverse trip.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. And I'm not sure that would work for Frankfurt, for example. With only hand luggage it is still possible to arrive at Heathrow's T2 for Lufthansa within an hour of take-off time, and when arriving you can be on the tube within 20 mins of landing. The lower-priced Eurowings flights also use the same terminal. If all airports were as well run as T2 the trains wouldn't get a look in.
I don't know how large the fraction of feeder passengers is relative to point topoint on those flight, but those won't be switching to planes any time soon. At least not without single ticket/single checkin dedicated airport train connections.
Solution for that is to put the airline checkin at the train station and make getting your from there to your destination the airlines problem.
Which brings up the issue that transportation networks are often hopelessly Balkanized. At least in the US.
I always found it particularly amusing, while riding the SZG-MUC bus route, that a lonely little bus stop on the edge of Rosenheim, Bavaria has its own IATA airport code (ZPR).
Second, the more flying is taxed for emissions the more it will make the train price attractive.
> And as the number of flights have proliferated, short-hop flights from economy carriers increasingly depart from smaller airports that are at a greater distance from the city, lengthening journey times further—not to mention obliging passengers to rely on sketchy onward transit. Anyone that’s made the 40 minute rail trip out to London Stansted Airport, or touched down at Southend Airport to find the last of the evening trains to London has long gone will know exactly what I mean here.