This article reviews the Eurostar high speed train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, including comparisons with air travel.
The Eurostar is a high speed train service connecting London and Kent in Britain, with Paris and Brussels in Europe. It is the world’s most advanced train, whisking you under the sea through the famous Channel Tunnel in luxurious surroundings, taking just 20 minutes at a record speed of 186 mph.
The first Eurostar trains ran in November 1994 and since then, Eurostar has established a dominant share of the market on the routes it serves. With the announcement that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will open into London St Pancras station on November 14, 2007 the Eurostar service will enjoy “High Speed 1” status.
Eurostar claims the journey times match or beat air flights, thus making it an alternative to air travel for holidays in Europe. Eurostar fares include the price of the ticket and seat reservation. Meals are included for Business Premier and First Class fares. The Eurostar is also non-smoking!
Food in first class is better than that served in the economy seats of a plane and comes served separately with metal cutlery and complimentary half-bottles of wine.
There is also the convenience factor. If you live in London, instead of enduring a 40 minute trip to Heathrow, you can make it to Waterloo Station in just 10 minutes, thus shortening your trip.
If you get a seat in the first class (not premium first), not only does the leg-room double, but seemingly, so does the seat size.
From those who have travelled on Eurostar for weekend leisure visits to Europe, comes a trick for getting cheaper tickets. The idea is to book your tickets in reverse to take advantage of leisure fares coming in from the French side. So instead of booking London to Paris Monday to Friday, book Paris to London Friday to Monday. You’ll see a massive difference in price.
Some say it’s cheaper to buy an air ticket, but if you add on airport taxes, the cost of getting out to one airport and then finding your way into the city from another airport, then all the drinky snacky things you’ll buy on the way, you’d be hard pushed to do the trip for less than the Eurostar ticket. It will also take you much longer and be a much less pleasant journey.
A day trip from London to Paris, or vice-versa, on the Eurostar? No problem. By plane? It would be a nightmare! The Eurostar also caters very well for disabled people, so if you’re disabled, there’s another plus.
There are another few useful things worth knowing about Eurostar: they sell gift vouchers, which make nice presents. All their timetables are available on the internet, as are booking facilities and even details of how to book onward journeys if you want to transfer to another train to go elsewhere in France.
The downside at present, is that Eurostar’s rail network is not very extensive, which means finding more train connections if you’re going anywhere other than London, Paris and Brussels. But there are plans ahead for the service to extend across Europe. The day may come when you can catch a sleeper from London and wake up in Rome.