Eurostar to Marseille from May 2015

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Temple

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Had heard this mooted recently, but now official that Eurostar will run from St Pancras to Marseille direct from May 2015, all year round. Good news, only down side is that the return will need a change at Lille because of immigration. No times, length of journey or calling pattern specifics known yet, although some days it will stop at Ashford, other days just straight to the continent.

Kent Online said:
Eurostar have announced plans for a direct service from Ashford to the south of France.

The train giant’s head of public affairs, Pierre Delalande, revealed details about the new route at a recent Ashford Borough Council meeting.

The line will run from St Pancras, via Ashford, to the city of Marseille and is expected to launch from May 2015.

Mr Delalande said: “We plan to increase our level of new destinations from May next year.

“We will launch a new service to Marseille which will indeed stop in Ashford. It will be an all-year-round service.”

It is understood the line to Marseille, the second largest city in France, from the UK will be seamless, with no changes.

However, the return journey will be semi-direct and will see a change in Lille, due to immigration issues.

On this matter, Mr Delalande said: “We would love to have a direct return journey but we have to follow immigration policy.”

Although the service will run all year, trains will not stop every day in Ashford, with more running during peak times and fewer in the winter months.

Ticket sales are expected to open as early as December, with the first departure planned for May. It is unknown how long the rail journey would take.

Councillors embraced news of the planned new route.

Godinton ward member Cllr Bernard Heyes (Con), who is the ABC portfolio holder for transportation, highways and engineering, said: “I welcome the news of a new service to Marseille.

"I would also like to see more trains stopping in Ashford that go to both Paris and Lille, as well as Brussels.”

Park Farm south member, Cllr Jim Wedgbury (Con) said: “I also welcome the new route to Marseille. I recently flew to France via Ryanair and the flights are full.

“It will be good to give them competition.”

Mr Delalande added: “We’re hoping by next year to have more visibility on stopping patterns and journey times but don’t have these details at the moment.”

Planning and development portfolio holder Cllr David Robey (Con) said: “It is important to have more routes from Ashford to Europe.

"Especially with the planned expansion of the Designer Outlet, which is hoping to increase its visitors from three million a year to seven million a year.”
http://www.kentonline.co.uk/ashford/news/eurostar-brings-south-of-france-20296/
 
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rf_ioliver

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Sounds good. The existing Marseille-Bussels service always seemed to be full every time I took it.

Had to laugh however at the first comment on the linked article about it being the "murder capital of Europe"...why so much negativity always? Is it not possible for people to actually welcome news like this?

t.

Ian
 

SpacePhoenix

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Will Marseille have a proper international terminal (or a dedicated area of the station) built in the long-term to save having to call at Lille on the return journey?
 

theageofthetra

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Will it stop at Aix (TGV) as thats where most tourists will want to go, particularly on Paris-Aix leg. Lots of students in Aix are from wealthy Parisian families. Worked in Aix a few times last year and despite some improvements in Marseille for its European city of culture status in 2013 it still has a lot of problems and no go areas.
 

telstarbox

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You could say the same about Birmingham or Manchester though and with HS2 there would clearly be a market for though journeys from those cities to Paris (with similar journey times to London-Marseille).
 

CC 72100

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Marseille does have a bad reputation in France, Northern parts of the city "quartiers nord" are classed as ZSPs (areas with social problems) and generally there is a strong sense of insecurity with gang culture, as a result for French housing policies creating deprived areas.

It's a similar situation to Paris 15-20 years ago, although with Paris, the problems were in certain suburbs; with Marseille some of these areas are in the city walls "intra-muros" itself.
 

RT4038

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Will Marseille have a proper international terminal (or a dedicated area of the station) built in the long-term to save having to call at Lille on the return journey?
This is highly unlikely. UKBA have stated that no more European stations will get UKBA staff to perform Immigration checks [although I expect that if the train company wishes to fund such staff it they would reconsider. However, the cost will probably destroy the profitability]. This would also mean that the train would have to run without passenger stop between Marseilles and the UK.
 
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RT4038

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Why can't immigration be done at Marseilles?
The UKBA has said that it will not put its staff at any more European stations than it is doing so already (Paris Nord, Brussels Midi, Lille Europe and Calais Frethun). Marseilles is not in this list, so Immigration cannot be done there. It may be possible for a train company to pay for UKBA staff to be in attendance at Marseilles, but the cost is likely to destroy the profitability of the service. If UKBA officials checked the train at Marseilles (assuming that a 'secure' platform could be allocated and guarded there) it would then have to run without passenger stop to the UK, or any intermediate stations would require the same.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
could one not do the checks "on board" in Lille?
1. This would take up to one hour - so the train would have to be shunted out (with the UKBA staff on board), as there is generally not the platform capacity at Lille Europe. During this time passengers could not move around inside the train.
2. This would require additional UKBA staff (the normal crew still being required to be in attendance at the station entrance for passengers arriving in the station for both this and other trains). UKBA would no doubt require this additional crew (which would have to be larger than the ''ground' crew, to deal with those without correct documentation) to be funded by the train operator.
3. UKBA staff would require portable devices to do the passport scanning - this would also require a very reliable WiFi link at the place that the train has been shunted to.
4. It is much more difficult, and therefore less reliable, to search a train full of passengers, rather than an empty one, for stowaways.
 

button_boxer

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There's nothing stopping them doing the UK border entry checks at the UK end after people have got off the train, like they used to in the early days of the tunnel. The only reason they don't like that is doing the checks on the continent lets them stop people who would claim asylum if they weren't checked until they were already on British soil.

The real killer is the requirement that all luggage passing through the tunnel must have been X-ray screened before boarding. For that you do have to either set up secure platforms and screening facilities at all the stops on the French side of the channel, or turf everyone off at Lille.
 

RT4038

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There's nothing stopping them doing the UK border entry checks at the UK end after people have got off the train, like they used to in the early days of the tunnel. The only reason they don't like that is doing the checks on the continent lets them stop people who would claim asylum if they weren't checked until they were already on British soil.
'There is nothing stopping them' is is not quite true:
1. The entry hall at St. Pancras is not large enough to accommodate a Eurostar train load of passengers being checked with today's passport checks without major delay. These checks have become more onerous since the service started.
2. Legislation has changed also - carriers (rail, sea or air) are now fined for bringing passengers to the UK without the correct documentation, so Eurostar would have to check the passengers travel documents before boarding the train (at their expense of course) . This is why airlines won't allow UK bound passengers on their aircraft without carefully checking their passports. Eurostar would not want to risk these fines and costs, and anyway if they did, would probably end up have their operating licence revoked.

I am sorry but 'The only reason they don't like it' sounds like some whim of officials - it is an act of public policy - the Government through UKBA are reacting to public criticism about immigration and passport checking processes which, as you say, gave rise to an asylum seeker problem. There is no reason to think that this issue has in any way diminished since the current checking system on foreign soil was instigated.

Sadly it does not seem to be possible to reconcile through long distance passenger trains with current UK public opinion on immigration policy, in the present circumstances of increasing world migration towards Europe.
 

Metroman62

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Does anyone know if this service will stop at Avignon? I was there the other week and there seemed to be a large choice of destinations being served. One could Aassume the existing Avignon service would be extended. I did not use the direct Eurostar service to and from Avignon as it had not started, but I did wounder how they handled check in security for the direct service when heading for London.
 

cle

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Didn't the trial train last year go: London - ? - Lyon - Avignon TGV - Aix - Marseilles ?

Great to have all of those stops - can't see Marseilles as the biggest demand driver.

It could stop at Disney to add another call there...

I don't really see the CDG demand, unless they wanted a sneaky bit of TGV's share of domestic journeys. Makes sense to have a go and try to sell seats twice!
 

rf_ioliver

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The UKBA has said that it will not put its staff at any more European stations than it is doing so already (Paris Nord, Brussels Midi, Lille Europe and Calais Frethun). Marseilles is not in this list, so Immigration cannot be done there. It may be possible for a train company to pay for UKBA staff to be in attendance at Marseilles, but the cost is likely to destroy the profitability of the service. If UKBA officials checked the train at Marseilles (assuming that a 'secure' platform could be allocated and guarded there) it would then have to run without passenger stop to the UK, or any intermediate stations would require the same.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


1. This would take up to one hour - so the train would have to be shunted out (with the UKBA staff on board), as there is generally not the platform capacity at Lille Europe. During this time passengers could not move around inside the train.
2. This would require additional UKBA staff (the normal crew still being required to be in attendance at the station entrance for passengers arriving in the station for both this and other trains). UKBA would no doubt require this additional crew (which would have to be larger than the ''ground' crew, to deal with those without correct documentation) to be funded by the train operator.
3. UKBA staff would require portable devices to do the passport scanning - this would also require a very reliable WiFi link at the place that the train has been shunted to.
4. It is much more difficult, and therefore less reliable, to search a train full of passengers, rather than an empty one, for stowaways.
Not necessarily, Finnish and Russian authorities manage and have managed to do this quite successfully on the Helsinki-St.Petersburg services for many years. Passport checks are done on board, but there is a stop at Vainikkala to remove 'unauthorised' persons; in the UK's case I'm sure that something could be done at Lille, Ashford or even at St.Pancras to deal with this situation.

I remember at Vainikkala that the underside of the train is also checked, but then again it was much easier to hide with the older style Russian and Finnish coaches than it is with the moden Allegro (Pendolino) stock,

t.

Ian
 

jon0844

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Can the arrivals hall at St Pancras not be considered foreign soil until you're accepted into the UK? Thus anyone caught and asking for asylum is sent back to France?

There is quite a lot of room for passport control at St Pancras (and it could quite easily be set up so if there was a queue, it could be directed around the space on the platforms nearest the clock first) and that would then, finally, allow travel from anywhere in mainland Europe to the UK without the problem of clearing passport control.

How the French and others want to do their own exit checks is then up to them, and of course the need to scan bags (which could still be done for everyone).

Obviously long term we should just join the Schengen Agreement, but until then (and that could be some time) I think this is the only real workable solution. Otherwise the expansion of routes will be influenced more by issues like security than anything else.
 

button_boxer

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Even joining Schengen wouldn't help with the baggage screening requirement. For that you still have to kick everyone off at Lille unless you're going to set up secure platforms at every intermediate stop and make domestic passengers check in early to have their bags scanned too.
 

radamfi

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You don't have baggage scanning on trains travelling within the Schengen area.

I can see some people using this service outward from the UK but returning by air. Otherwise it is a waste of time. The UK is hell bent on making international train travel difficult so it would make more sense to target the improvements in high speed services outside the UK instead.
 

RT4038

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Can the arrivals hall at St Pancras not be considered foreign soil until you're accepted into the UK? Thus anyone caught and asking for asylum is sent back to France?
No, this doesn't work, because the French won't accept them back because they will likely have no right of abode in the Schengen area either.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Not necessarily, Finnish and Russian authorities manage and have managed to do this quite successfully on the Helsinki-St.Petersburg services for many years. Passport checks are done on board, but there is a stop at Vainikkala to remove 'unauthorised' persons; in the UK's case I'm sure that something could be done at Lille, Ashford or even at St.Pancras to deal with this situation.
With respect, we are not really talking about a similar situation. Few migrants will be trying to cross from Finland to Russia, and I am sure that the Russian authorities would deal with those seeking to travel the other way before they get to the border. Nor are you talking about full 18 car trains. The French, understandably, are unlikely to co-operate fully in any system which leaves unwanted migrants still in France, so will not want 'unauthorised' persons ejected at Lille to become their problem. Ejecting them at Ashford or St. Pancras is too late, as they become a UK problem, which the current system is designed to eliminate.
Furthermore, checking on the train is much more expensive than the current system - it will take an Immigration crew at least from Paris to Lille to check the train [ assuming passport check is by scanning via a wifi system, which anyway would probably not be reliable enough in a fast train]. Currently one crew could man Paris Nord station entrance for half the day and another for the other half. On the trains it would take 4 crews for half the day and another 4 for the other half. And every train would have to make an additional stop at Lille (10 mins extra?) plus a further timekeeping allowance for 'unauthorised persons' not alighting voluntarily. (Imagine a group of 10 boarding Paris .....)
We are living in a different world to that of 30+ years ago.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
You don't have baggage scanning on trains travelling within the Schengen area.

I can see some people using this service outward from the UK but returning by air. Otherwise it is a waste of time. The UK is hell bent on making international train travel difficult so it would make more sense to target the improvements in high speed services outside the UK instead.
You don't have long undersea tunnels elsewhere in Schengen either. Baggage screening is done before boarding High speed trains within Spain.
 

RT4038

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I am no expert on such things, and assume it is for similar reasons that aircraft baggage is screened. If other countries wish to take the risk in their long mountain tunnels that is up to them, but this is not necessarily any reason not to have it on our tunnel.
 

Gordon

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Otherwise the expansion of routes will be influenced more by issues like security than anything else.
It already is - and has been from day 1 of the Channel Tunnel. Initial concern was triggered by the IRA risk - since when other perceived risks have taken over.

Geneva was the blatantly obvious potential destination for a service from London from day 1 - it has always had a secure platform for arrivals from France - but even that was not considered because there has always been little stomach by railway operators/authorities at potential destinations to shell out dosh to provide the fenced and guarded siding demanded by UK authorities.

There is a clue in the point raised elsewhere about Spanish High speed trains having baggage scanning - which I think was introduced after the Madrid train attack.
 
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theageofthetra

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The security screening on AVE's was introduced after the Muslim bomings in Madrid.I have used these several times & not noticed any undue delays. Why can't they be introduced on some TGV services? It would certainly eliminate the garbage who steal from luggage on TGV's at less well guarded stations.
 

radamfi

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The problem with security screening is that it means you have to arrive well before the train's departure for check-in. One of the advantages of rail travel over air is that you can arrive at the station just before the departure time.
 

stut

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So what is it that sets the Channel Tunnel apart from the Seikan Tunnel, security-wise? Or, indeed, any of the long Alpine tunnels (I know these are not underwater, but are they really that much more accessible in the case of disaster?)
 

RT4038

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I expect that it is a case of our country having plenty of experience of bombs being exploded in public places, and more recently in railway tunnels. Screening makes some people feel more secure, and shows that the Authorities are taking reasonable precautions against the risk. 1 bomb going off in an Alpine or Japanese tunnel will probably result in those getting security screening as well.

We do not have to go for a 'Lowest Common Denominator' approach to safety - passengers ride on the outside of trams in San Francisco without much harm, but we wouldn't be suggesting introducing that here!
 

stut

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Of course, Japan did have the Sarin attacks on the Tokyo metro.

Mind you, they do have security checks as you leave the train at Narita, due to a historical threat from disgruntled local farmers from when the airport was first built!
 
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Not necessarily, Finnish and Russian authorities manage and have managed to do this quite successfully on the Helsinki-St.Petersburg services for many years. Passport checks are done on board, but there is a stop at Vainikkala to remove 'unauthorised' persons; in the UK's case I'm sure that something could be done at Lille, Ashford or even at St.Pancras to deal with this situation.

I remember at Vainikkala that the underside of the train is also checked, but then again it was much easier to hide with the older style Russian and Finnish coaches than it is with the moden Allegro (Pendolino) stock,

t.

Ian
In September 2013, I travelled on the Allegro train from St Petersburg to Helsinki. Checks were thorough and efficient. I was impressed with how well it all went - considering that the all passengers will need to a visa to travel on the service with the additional inspection that requries.

Whereas the majority of passengers travelling on the Eurostar are British citizens, who do not need a visa.

Eurostar's ability to provided an expanded service to destinations beyond Paris and Brussels is hampered by UBKA.
 
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