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The Independent Travel

Eurostar's future

In his column on 2 August, Simon Calder states that Eurostar has a lack of ambition. How bizarre, when Eurostar has just broken the UK rail-speed record, is about to check in its 50 millionth passenger and is on the brink of whisking travellers from London to the heart of Brussels in two hours, 20 minutes, and Paris in two hours, 35 minutes.

At a time when many in the travel industry are suffering from a downturn in passengers, Eurostar has maintained its strong market share. With over 60 per cent of the rail/air market, we carry more people between London and Paris than all the airlines put together. Far from taking advantage of the low-value airlines, travellers are voting with their feet and buying the convenience of a city-centre to city-centre journey at a smooth 186mph.

With standard-class fares from £59 return, Eurostar is cheaper than many of the airlines. Are they losing money on their routes? Of course - surely a factor in BA's decision to close its Gatwick-Brussels service from 1 September.

Once the first phase of the Channel Tunnel rail link opens in September, on time and on budget, Eurostar will be running extra services to Paris, Lille and Brussels.

Simon Calder asks why we don't run more services and create a new market to Calais, where we stop four times a day. Catch up, Simon. Lille is "the new Calais". Booze cruises are on the wane. Those destined for the Continent prefer to lunch on rue de la Monnaie and shop till they drop in the vast Euralille shopping centre. From September, we will run nine trains a day from London to Lille.

Eurostar understands its market and where its customers wish to travel. As we prepare for the future, with a faster service, we will continue to be competitive. Far from missing a trick, Eurostar has plenty of magic up its sleeve.

Paul Charles
Director of communications, Eurostar

Eurostar's present

The Eurostar website doesn't always show the cheapest journeys. Here's a good example: you should be able to get to Amsterdam from Waterloo for £79 return. But the site only shows the more expensive and pointless - when you look at journey times - Thalys service.

Adrian Pearce

San Andres, Colombia

You call the island's visitors "unfortunate". I have holidayed on San Andres three times in the last eight years and found it a peaceful island with friendly inhabitants. The reference was inaccurate and unfair.

Robert McIntosh

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