On the day Eurostar’s last Disneyland Paris train leaves London, it has emerged that the Cross-Channel Rail Company could be forced to halt trains from London to both Rotterdam and Amsterdam for almost a year due to work on the railway line. station in the Dutch capital.
Unless a solution can be found, the Eurostar network will be reduced from a pre-Brexit year-round total of 13 stations to just four: London, Lille, Paris and Brussels.
Monday at 10.34 am the last Eurostar “Disneyland Express” departs from London St Pancras International. The direct high-speed train service to the heart of the theme park east of Paris has been running since 1996, with the exception of a break during the Covid crisis.
But Eurostar is now terminating the service due to additional red tape due to Brexit. The UK government has negotiated for British passport holders to become “third country nationals” – with a European Union hard border at St Pancras station for outgoing passengers.
It was never envisaged when the Eurostar London terminal was designed that checks would include stamping passports – and, from next year, taking fingerprints and facial biometrics from British travelers to the EU. These checks greatly increase the time taken by each passenger, and with it the space required.
Eurostar limits the number of passengers on trains due to the huge physical limitations of the terminals.
The added bureaucracy resulting from the decision to leave the European Union has led to the continued closure of two stations in Kent: Ebbsfleet and Ashford International. They closed when the Covid pandemic broke out, but Eurostar will not reopen them until 2025 at the earliest – after the planned entry-exit system for the EU has been implemented.
The direct train from London St Pancras to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille has been cancelled. The Calais-Frethun station, which serves the French port, is also shut down.
Mark Smith, the international rail expert known as The Man in Seat 61, called ending the Disneyland Paris link “another Brexit benefit” along with dropping calls to Ashford and Ebbsfleet”.
He said: “With more border controls and consequently reduced terminal capacity, Eurostar is doubling down on their core routes until the full effects of the new EU Entry/Exit system are known.”
Separately, Eurostar’s four daily trains between London and Amsterdam could be suspended for 11 months next year due to work at the historic Central station in the Dutch capital.
Dutch Infrastructure Minister Vivianne Heijnen said on Friday that the planned large-scale refurbishment, coupled with the large amount of space required for pre-departure checks on British passengers, could mean the Netherlands is locked down for 11 months – with a possible 21 more months. . return flights between Amsterdam and London.
The international train terminal is being demolished, without the replacement being ready. The closure could last from June 2024 to the end of May 2025.
Eurostar launched the Amsterdam and Rotterdam service in 2018 and has since carried 1.6 million passengers.
Rotterdam Central is not a financially viable option because only 160 passengers are allowed to board the train there due to post-Brexit restrictions.
From 2036, Eurostar’s operation in the Dutch capital will be moved to the less convenient Amsterdam Zuid station.
Later on Monday, Eurostar CEO Gwendoline Cazenave will meet with the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure – hoping that the space in a subway under the station will allow Eurostar service to continue during renovations.
A Eurostar spokesman said so The independent: “We have been given the impression that the Eurostar Amsterdam-London route is at risk of being suspended indefinitely from April next year.
“The possible proposal to move the Dutch departure/arrival lounge from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is not feasible due to capacity and safety reasons. Should this be the only option offered by the ministry, Eurostar Group will have no choice but to stop the Amsterdam-London route.
“This decision comes as we have just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the route, one of the most popular international rail services among passengers looking for efficient and environmentally friendly ways to travel across Europe.”
Stations served all year round by Eurostar
- Ebbs Fleet
- Ashford International
- Calais Frethun