Eurostar’s link from London to Amsterdam is proving so popular after just six months that extra trains are planned to start next summer.
From June 2019, a new daily round-trip will add 58 per cent to capacity on the route. It will depart from St Pancras in the middle of the day, in addition to the existing morning service (daily except Sunday) and late afternoon run (daily except Saturday).
The timings for the existing services move earlier. But they will slow down by 14 minutes, taking 3h55m rather than 3h41m. The new departure is slower still, taking 26 minutes longer than current trips with a journey time of 4h07m.
The new schedule envisages the first train leaving St Pancras at 7.16am, 75 minutes earlier than now. It will reach the Dutch capital at 12.11pm.
The added train will depart at 11.04am, which allows plenty of time for travellers from elsewhere in Britain to reach London. Even passengers on the first morning train from Edinburgh and Newcastle should be able comfortably to connect.
But due to the availability of paths (the rail equivalent of slots for flights) on the complex network, the train from London is scheduled to wait at Brussels Midi station for 17 minutes before continuing to Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
The new timings are likely to increase the appeal to business travellers, allowing an earlier arrival in the Netherlands and increasing the range of choices.
But the return journey from Amsterdam and Rotterdam requires a change of trains in Brussels because there is no facility for security and immigration screening at the Dutch stations.
Passengers have to take a Thalys high-speed train to Brussels, where they clear formalities and board a Eurostar service.
Border controls are expected to be in place by the end of 2019. Eurostar has said it intends to double the current number of trains each day to four with ambitions for five services a day.
The train operator says that 130,000 passengers have switched from air to rail since the service began in April, saving over 7,000 tonnes of CO2.
The Dutch transport secretary, Stientje van Veldhoven, told Algemeen Dagblad: “I want to get as many passengers as possible to choose the train over the plane for short distances within Europe, I want to do everything I can to make Eurostar’s plan possible.“
Rail operators, like airlines, are concerned about the effect of a no-deal Brexit on UK-Europe links. For Eurostar and Eurotunnel trains to continue to run will require a new legal agreement.
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