Warning of the week: Eurostar changeover cancellations
On 14 November, the new High Speed 1 line opens from London St Pancras, replacing the existing terminal at Waterloo and accelerating train journeys to Paris, Brussels and Lille. The new station and track will transform terrestrial travel to the Continent. But anyone hoping to travel on the last day of Channel Tunnel services from Waterloo, or the first day from St Pancras, will encounter a drastically reduced service while the changeover takes place.
The last trains from Waterloo to both Paris and Brussels will depart shortly after 6pm, and the final services from the French and Belgian capitals are scheduled to arrive before 8pm.
On Day 1 of High Speed 1, the first public departure is at 11.06am, arriving in Brussels one hour, 50 minutes later. The first train to Paris does not leave until the afternoon – departing at 12.30 and arriving at 3.50pm. Over the two days, a total of 29 trains have been withdrawn, including three Disneyland Paris services.
The October edition of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable (£12.50) reveals that French Railways will be bidding au revoir to the domestic sleeper train. At present, three trains still offer sleeper carriages: Paris to Nice and Ventimiglia, Paris to Briancon, and Luxembourg via Metz to Nice. These will be withdrawn on 1 December, but on these – and many other services in France – couchettes will still be available. These offer four berths per compartment in first class, six per compartment in second. The existing international links from Paris to Germany, Italy and Spain are unaffected.
New eastbound sleeper train possibilities are being introduced eastbound from Amsterdam, with overnight links to Copenhagen, Vienna, Prague and Warsaw from 9 December.
Destination of the week: between England and Scotland, in style
For years, Scot Rail has offered cut-price "bargain berths" on its overnight trains between London Euston and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. These one-way, standard-class sleeper tickets are priced at £19, £29, £39 and £49 depending on demand, and must be booked in advance, online at www.bargainberths.co.uk.
For an even more comfortable experience at a flat rate, you could buy the 10-Journey Flexipass. The price tag, £923, may look high, and indeed would buy you a round-the-world flight. But it provides a guaranteed fare of £92.30 for each one-way trip in first class, compared with the normal £145 (London to or from Edinburgh or Glasgow) or £166 (Aberdeen, Fort William or Inverness).
One more bonus: a first-class ticket qualifies you for a free shower at Fort William – standard class passengers must pay £3.50 for the privilege.
Bargain of the week: last call for seat sales
Britain's two leading full-service short-haul airlines are aggressively pushing low fares for a wide range of destinations – but these deals are set to expire in the next few days.
The closest deadline is on BMI (0870 60 70 555; www.flybmi. com), which is offering its shortest hops from Heathrow for £30 one-way, so long as you are flexible about dates and times. Domestic destinations with significant availability include Belfast City, Durham Tees Valley, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. Abroad, Amsterdam, Brussels and Dublin are on sale at £30. You must book by midnight tomorrow, 23 September. Naples, Palma and Venice are also included in the seat sale, with some £30 fares available.
British Airways (0870 850 9 850; www.ba.com) has a much wider range of destinations in its World Offers, which end at midnight on Tuesday. Its lowest fares are on domestic flights (£29 one-way between Gatwick and Newquay, for example), with excellent deals also available on flights to Nice (£30 one-way), Malaga (£40) and Faro (£45). Seats are scarce during school half-terms and holidays.