Eurostar - alighting early

joncombe

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I had a quick look on this forum and couldn't see a previous post, so apologies if this has come up before.

I want to travel out from London and alight at Calais and return from Belgium on any "Any Belgium" ticket (not exactly sure which station I shall be returning from yet). I'm actually heading for De Panne but it looks to me to be quicker to alight at Calais, take a train onto Dunkirk and then a bus (which I believe is free) to De Panne than to go to Brussels and back up to the coast (unfortunately, the Dover to Dunkirk ferry does not accept foot passengers).

I could book a single London to Calais and a single Any Belgium Station back to London. However it is cheaper to book a return London to Any Belgium Station. The train I want to travel out of London on stops at Calais.

So my question is, can I book a ticket to any Belgium Station and alight early at Calais? If so will it cause me any problems on the return? I can find this FAQ which suggests you can use a ticket booked from any Kent station at London and vice-versa. It also mentions you must board on the continent at your specified station. However there is nothing about alighting early. The FAQ I found is https://help.eurostar.com/faq/uk-en/question/I-ve-booked-from-one-station-can-I-board-at-another

Is it possible? Or should I book two single instead and pay the difference.
 
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30907

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Don't think there are barriers, but I don't think I'd risk it, just in case the trip went pear-shaped - ES might not take you to Frethun. Or in case your action looked suspicious to staff (has he left a package on board?....)

What about doing the train and ferry Calais Day Tripper outward? At least it gets you to Calais itself (almost!) not Frethun.
Various threads on here, or see https://www.seat61.com/London-Paris-ferry.htm
 

radamfi

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I've booked a ticket to Rotterdam and got off in Brussels. Nobody checks tickets when getting off so no problem.

The Dover to Dunkerque ferry takes bikes as long as you ride it on and off the ferry. You could probably leave the bike at Dunkerque ferry terminal but it is quite a distance to the town.
 

joncombe

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Don't think there are barriers, but I don't think I'd risk it, just in case the trip went pear-shaped - ES might not take you to Frethun. Or in case your action looked suspicious to staff (has he left a package on board?....)
Well if something goes wrong I assume Eurostar would still get me to Brussels (since that is where my ticket is valid to) and I can then take a train from there to De Panne instead. This would all be covered by my ticket, just would rather get off at Calais because it looks like it would get me there at least 2 hours faster than going via Brussels!

What about doing the train and ferry Calais Day Tripper outward? At least it gets you to Calais itself (almost!) not Frethun.
Various threads on here, or see https://www.seat61.com/London-Paris-ferry.htm
Yes I looked at that, but it's slower and more expensive than Eurostar to Calais and not very convenient (you have to get between the station and the docks, so a taxi or a 1.5 mile or so walk, as the bus does not run any more).
 

joncombe

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I've booked a ticket to Rotterdam and got off in Brussels. Nobody checks tickets when getting off so no problem.

The Dover to Dunkerque ferry takes bikes as long as you ride it on and off the ferry. You could probably leave the bike at Dunkerque ferry terminal but it is quite a distance to the town.
Yes I've looked at the bike option too. But the problem is I'm not planning on coming back from somewhere else (probably nearer the Dutch side of Belgium) so would not want to have to come back via Dunkerque in order to retrieve the bike but want to come back by train.
 

radamfi

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Note that Calais Fréthun is some way out from Calais town centre so you will have to get a train or bus to Calais Ville.
 

joncombe

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OK sounds like it might be doable ... but one other concern. I seem to recall that at London your passport is checked by both the UK border force and another border force. So is the second border force French if going to Lille/Paris and Belgium if going to Brussels? Or are they French regardless of destination? (There being no passport checks between Belgium and France and the first bit of land you reach being French). Just wondering if being checked by Belgium immigration but actually alighting in France might cause any problems.
 

Bletchleyite

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OK sounds like it might be doable ... but one other concern. I seem to recall that at London your passport is checked by both the UK border force and another border force. So is the second border force French if going to Lille/Paris and Belgium if going to Brussels? Or are they French regardless of destination? (There being no passport checks between Belgium and France and the first bit of land you reach being French). Just wondering if being checked by Belgium immigration but actually alighting in France might cause any problems.
They are always French, there is no Belgian presence in London.
 

Ianno87

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OK sounds like it might be doable ... but one other concern. I seem to recall that at London your passport is checked by both the UK border force and another border force. So is the second border force French if going to Lille/Paris and Belgium if going to Brussels? Or are they French regardless of destination? (There being no passport checks between Belgium and France and the first bit of land you reach being French). Just wondering if being checked by Belgium immigration but actually alighting in France might cause any problems.
Just checked by French police at St Pancras IIRC, as the first country of entry into the Schengen area.
 

paul1609

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There is a Flixbus from London to De Panne every day at 10.30. It actually goes on to Amsterdam but changes drivers at De Panne. Ive got it to Brugge before. Not as fast as Eurostar but a darn site cheaper and no faffing around with connections.
 

AlexNL

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Eurostar's Twitter people have been wrong before - I've seen them claim in the past that you wouldn't be allowed to get on at Ashford if you have a ticket from St. Pancras. This is obviously wrong and they apologised after I pointed this out to them.

Eurostar do indeed need to know who's on their trains (API information), but they only need this for immigration controls and for the channel tunnel. Once you're in France it shouldn't matter at which station you abandon your journey.

edit: let me clarify. Eurostar's terms do specify that your ticket is only valid to a certain station, but the way this is worded leads me to believe that it applies to excesses only;

11. If you travel to a station different to that specified on the ticket
If you wish to use your ticket for a station other than the one for which it is valid, you will have to pay the appropriate full fare for the additional portion of the journey. No railcard or railpass reductions will be permitted.
An additional portion would mean: you hold a ticket from London to Lille, but you want to continue your journey to Brussels. You'd then have to pay for an excess Lille - Brussels. The terms and conditions make no mention about stopping short.

But, what's more important: Eurostar doesn't do exit checks. In most cases you can simply alight from the train and walk out the station without anyone batting an eyelid. If you do encounter a check this will be for immigration purposes only, there are no ticket checks at your destination station.
 
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BahrainLad

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Clearly there is a financial advantage when, for example, booking a Eurostar to Amsterdam for the (promotional?) price of £79/£89 one way in Standard Premier, and then getting off in Brussels.

BUT in my recent case, the 1104 to Amsterdam connects nicely with the 1425 ICE from Brussels, but if you want to book it more than 60 days from departure you need to buy an Amsterdam ticket and then alight early.
 

flash

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Station and train staff confirm the numbers of people leaving or joining a service in either direction at Calais, the numbers are derived from the ticketing and 'check in' data. Obviously for trains going to the UK these numbers are important, and will cause problems if they don't agree. I am unaware if there are consequences if this happens for trains going onward to France and Belgium. There is always staff at the exit of the platform.
 

dutchflyer

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For getting to de Panne it may be more easy and quicker to alight at LIlle and train it from here. Of course same quandery re getting off early as above.
There should also be a Calais citybus to quite near the Frëthun station. DK buses are free since last year, but I DK if that also applies to the BE section, as deLIJN fares there apply. Plus one has to change somewhere en route now, as on FR area frequency is higher.
 

S-Car-Go

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Yes, you can alight in Calais or Lille with a Brussels ticket, or alight in Brussels on an Amsterdam ticket. But say, for example, you have a ticket to Any Belgian station, it may not be valid from Lille into Belgium on the cross-border train to Kortrijk. Unsure on that.
For sure, you cannot check-in with a Brussels-London ticket in Lille or Calais.
 

Railman10

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OK sounds like it might be doable ... but one other concern. I seem to recall that at London your passport is checked by both the UK border force and another border force. So is the second border force French if going to Lille/Paris and Belgium if going to Brussels? Or are they French regardless of destination? (There being no passport checks between Belgium and France and the first bit of land you reach being French). Just wondering if being checked by Belgium immigration but actually alighting in France might cause any problems.
The passport check at St Pancras is for entry into France, after which the Schengen arrangements apply.
 

riceuten

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I recently had cause to tweet to E* and when I got a response, I realised that it was actually a firm pretending to be Eurostar, and assisting (if not running) their social media presence. So I would take travel advice from a PR outfit with a pinch of salt.

Like with (some) trains, stopping short on the outward trip is not strictly allowed, but it's not actually policed or checked. A number of people frustrated at the "cut" in the number of Brussels trains are buying tickets to Rotterdam and getting off short - often, there's little price difference.

"But say, for example, you have a ticket to Any Belgian station, it may not be valid from Lille into Belgium on the cross-border train to Kortrijk. Unsure on that."

No, it's not valid via that route. There is a Belgian train from Lille Flandres (not Europe) to Kortrijk (and sometimes beyond) that runs on SNCF tracks to Mouscron, and you would need a separate ticket for that. Theoretically, your "Any Belgian Station" ticket should result from a connection in Brussels, but it's not controlled. Same with the train to Tournai.

"There is always staff at the exit of the platform"

I've never seen anyone approached. I have travelled to Lille numerous times and I have never been checked getting off the train, ever (ticket, customs, or passport). There were no (visible) platform staff other than those dispatching the train.

"DK buses are free since last year, but I DK if that also applies to the BE section, as deLIJN fares there apply"

Dunkerque - the free bus now also includes the Belgian section (https://www.dunkirk-tourism.com/Explore/Focus-on/Free-buses-in-Dunkirk)
 

riceuten

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If you read the post you find it references Calais... Lille is a different place altogether.
Yes, I'm fully aware of that. I've travelled extensively in the area. No-one checks your ticket getting off in Calais. No-one checks your ticket getting off ANYWHERE in France, ever.
 

flash

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Yes, I'm fully aware of that. I've travelled extensively in the area. No-one checks your ticket getting off in Calais. No-one checks your ticket getting off ANYWHERE in France, ever.
How certain are you? Every train I have been on (this year several dozens) that has stopped in Calais, Brussels bound, there has been a conversation between the Train Manager and the station staff regarding numbers of passengers leaving the train. What the station staff do if there are additional passengers leaving I have no idea, but at the very least there will be a conversation to ensure the passenger isn't mistaken. Obviously trains towards the UK will definitely have a ticket check fix the numbers don't match.
 

Oscar

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I'm actually heading for De Panne but it looks to me to be quicker to alight at Calais, take a train onto Dunkirk and then a bus (which I believe is free) to De Panne than to go to Brussels and back up to the coast (unfortunately, the Dover to Dunkirk ferry does not accept foot passengers).
Calais - Dunkirk/Dunkerque services are currently not running due to the strike in France and are replaced by three buses a day (timetable).

You have to take two buses to get from Dunkirk/Dunkerque to De Panne. To the left of the station concourse, there is a small bus station where you can catch a bus to Leffrincoucke Fort des Dunes (line C1/C2). Get off at the final stop (in a large lay-by on the edge of the city) and change to bus 20 to De Panne, which runs every 30 minutes Monday-Saturday and hourly on Sundays. This runs along the coast with a detour to a hospital and another around a village before reaching De Panne. The buses are very modern, but don't expect tight timekeeping. When I used the bus this week, the driver arrived late, was chatting to a friend all the way to De Panne and the bus arrived 8 minutes late, just missing the onward train connection. When the following train left an hour later, there was no sign of the bus which should have arrived a few minutes earlier.
 

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