Eurostar to Marseille from May 2015

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Temple, 17 Jul 2014.

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  1. williamn

    williamn Member

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    I took the outward bound service to Lyon yesterday. Must admit they are really making an effort with it - the staff were really great. Delayed by 40 mins because of the problems in the tunnel. Train was packed.

    However - I am flying home to avoid having to lug my luggage around at Lille!
     
  2. FOH

    FOH Member

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    Just home off this evening's service. Arrived at Avignon TGV 30mins late - no announcements at all so keep an eye out for it sweeping in. Tea/coffee service with a tiny packet of crisps before Lyon. Full meal service after Lyon which was a choice of hot stuffed chicken breast with vegetables or a Stilton quiche (chicken was way oversubscribed and heard complaints about the lack of choice) dessert was custard and orange tart with lemon curd.
    At Lille everything had to be taken off and the train was cleaned. All passengers queue upstairs in a single line (went down about half the length of the station and this was on a train I estimate to be less than half full). We were at the back of the queue (smokers in the party taking advantage) and it took around 30mins to reach check in. Checkin through the automated machines and then full French, British and security checks. You then get held in a stiflingly hot departure lounge until about 30mins before departure, such a relief when they opened the doors to the cool outside air. Btw there are only 3 cubicles for gents loo (no urinals). You board via a single escalator which takes ages.
    On departure served a final tea/coffee service with cookies.
    Overall I liked the interaction with the staff but I would do the return in future via TGV as it is faster and the setup in Lille for such passenger numbers is woeful and no better than travelling by air being herded from one queue to another.
     
  3. williamn

    williamn Member

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    I don't get why you have to be held in the departure lounge once border and security checks are complete, why not just let you straight back on the train?
     
  4. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I assume the train has to be searched thoroughly for stowaways?

    Given the layout at St Pancras, including the rather large area for customs (which I've never personally seen used, as I guess it's reliant mostly on intelligence?) can't we re-organise things such that we can cope with passport checks there even when there are a few trains arriving at once?

    If we could sort that, we could get rid of this nonsense once and for all.

    I assume we've changed things so people can't just get to St Pancras and plead asylum?
     
  5. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    Correct
     
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    So why can't we just do the checks here, and then you can have trains coming here from absolutely anywhere.

    I am sure there's a lot of room at St Pancras for arrivals, and a lot of wasted space. You could surely fit in a lot of gates for chip enabled passports, helping to reduce queues.

    And let's be honest, there's quite a lot of room at platform level too - so to a degree you could have gates that form a queue up there in exceptional circumstances. It's not as if it's not known how many people are arriving at any given time, and indeed you can even keep track of how many people are travelling on EU passports or non-EU passports based on data collected at check-in.
     
  7. HilversumNS

    HilversumNS Member

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    Any illegals found would cause the carrier to be fined, so Eurostar want the checks done before the UK. Also, any illegals arriving on UK soil will simply yell ASYLUM and have to go into the UK system, which we all know is far from perfect.
     
  8. laird

    laird Member

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    What would those that have done the Marseille to London journey since the service was introduced recommend on arrival at Lille, should the aim be to get up the escalator first or last.
    I've previously enjoyed (endured) the lack of facilities in the Lille Europe Eurostar waiting lounge previously so would normally be happy to minimise time in there.
     
  9. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    How does this service work with crewing?

    The cabin service crew are likely within hours, but drivers I imagine go beyond their hours somewhere in mid-France?

    Is it a Eurostar driver the entire way from London? If so, that must be a very impressive route card - possibly the longest in Europe?

    If not, where does the SNCF driver take over?
     
  10. NicholasNCE

    NicholasNCE Member

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  11. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    Interesting. It would appear that he writes that the service is done by Belgium based drivers who do not have the Paris knowledge. I may have totally mis read that, French is not my first language nor even third. Also interesting that is must be a different driver who brings it up. Again if I misread please correct me.

    Interesting, however, that most of this service is sub-contracted. This must be quite expensive?

    Very pleased to see new British links to the continent. I've done that route by train, albeit starting from Bru and Ams instead of London, but it's a lovely run.
     
  12. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Not sure about the abbreviations, but think it's the Brits who don't know the road past Paris (MSC). I'd expect the Belgians to sign Lyon at least.
     
  13. NicholasNCE

    NicholasNCE Member

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    This is not sub-contracting in a traditional way as a number of SNCF drivers are permanently detached to Eurostar. In fact, I think all french Eurostar drivers are SNCF employees, though this may have changed or in the process of doing so since Eurostar obtained their own safety certificate in France.

    In order to clarify, here's a translation of the previously posted link:

    I'm based in Lille where we take over the southbound trains from the English drivers, as like the Paris based drivers, they don't have the route knowledge to Marseille Saint Charles (MSC). The same applies for Bourg St Maurice (BSM) winter season trains.

    No shunting is required in Marseille as the unit does the return trip on the same day with a short turnaround of only 38 min (beginning in May).

    At Eurostar, the French SNCF work regulations (RH077) apply to French drivers (ADC - Agent De Conduite), English rules apply to English drivers and Belgian rules apply likewise to Belgian drivers. This obviously does cause some difficulties.

    The return trip (Lille-Marseille-Lille) requires two drivers (one southbound, another northbound) as per RH077 rules.
     
    Last edited: 21 May 2015
  14. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    Appalling story. On the last, what do you mean? Do you mean, get TGV Avignon to Paris, cross Paris, get ES to St Pancras?


    I have just read a rant from Jeremy Clarkson about all this. He is not my cup of tea, to say the least, but on this I agree with him totally. There is no logic in these arrangements, at least, as far as security is concerned.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I don't get this remark. The other poster above RT4038 says they can't do that. Who is right?
     
  15. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    What don't you 'get' about this remark? Any carrier bringing passengers to the UK without the correct papers is subject to a substantial fine, for each instance, by the UK Authorities. If the carrier keeps on doing this, they will be stopped from operating. This is to prevent, as much as possible, passengers arriving on UK soil and then claiming Asylum. Hence having UK Border officers at the French Channel ports (for 'roll-on/roll-off' road boat traffic), and at Eurostar stations [Paris Nord, Brussels Midi, Lille Europe and Calais Frethun]. Airlines check in passengers before they board the plane (and check passports, visas etc. very carefully), and then the UK Border Agency check passports again at the arriving Airport. Eurostar cannot afford to allow unchecked entry to trains on the Continent coming to the UK. There is also the security rules - all bags must be security checked before travelling through the tunnel.
    As both these checks need sterile (i.e. secure) conditions at Continental Stations, these can only take place at a handful where these conditions are possible at a sensible cost. (check-in staff and scanning equipment)
    With these regulations in mind, the only way Eurostar can economically run long distance through trains is to detrain the passengers at one of the 'sterile' stations, do the passport and security checks, and then allow the passengers to reboard. In this case, at Lille Europe.
     
  16. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    Thanks very much. I misunderstood your reply to the questioner to be the complete opposite of the above.
     
  17. leshuttle

    leshuttle Member

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    It seems odd that Lille Europe Eurostar terminal wasn't previously upgraded to handle much higher volumes of passengers for this kind of situation. The queuing system even for Brussels originating Eurostar isn't great and the lounge hardly compares to most airport terminals. Couldn't the layout be improved or alternatively have a separate building linked to the West of the platform?
     
  18. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    It would make sense, if the only way forward is to get people off the trains regularly, to build new facilities that can not only cope better with people, but also make it a lot more pleasant.

    I can't help but feel a number of people will be put off from day one, and many more put off after one single trip.
     
  19. FOH

    FOH Member

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    Appalling is perhaps too strong, it wasn't all that bad but it could obviously be a lot better. Re TGV, I simply meant taking an Avignon to Lille TGV and changing for Eurostar. It's not the interchange at Lille so much as the sheer volume of passengers when an entire Eurostar load get off in one go.
     
  20. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    I can just imagine the business case - we'll put on a direct train from London to Marseille and back - cost of running the train, track access charges etc etc. No real idea of how many passengers will actually travel, and the revenue that will be generated - and oh, before starting, spend £10m upgrading Lille Europe Station with new building etc. No way that this train would ever have got off the ground!

    Will take quite a few more of these trains to be running before that kind of capital expenditure will be considered.
     
  21. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    Couldn't you build a separate secure facility, which doesn't have to uproot things at Lille? Sure, you can only do it if you're serious about opening up new routes and running sufficient numbers of trains, but it could be done.
     
  22. HilversumNS

    HilversumNS Member

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    The problem with that is, I for one would be reluctant to use the service to/from Amsterdam (when that starts) if they do not have decent facilities. The de-camp and hour added on to the journey time in Lille are already negatives, add on the reported inadequate facilities and I'm likely to carry on driving to my homeland. My mum agrees, as she does this trip at least once a year.
     
  23. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    Of course it could be done! But would spending this kind of money on an untried venture (of 1 train per day) be a wise decision?
    Yes, the inadequate facilities at Lille Europe may put off some passengers from travelling, and Eurostar will have to factor this in when judging whether this train will continue, or any more be introduced, and perhaps better facilities can then be financed.
    If this train is economically unsuccessful, imagine the opprobrium members of this forum would heap on Eurostar for spending millions on a new building which became a white elephant!! (NoL, Nightstar, Stratford International etc etc. - no more of these please)
     
  24. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    I fervently hope the facilities at Lille will have been sorted adequately before anything like a regular service starts using it.

    However, in terms of journey time on a return trip the difference is marginal: you have to allow a minimum of 18 min each way at Brussels, which is fairly similar to the NET extra at Lille (for Standard passengers - and i do realise that no one is going to risk boarding in Marseille or wherever at the last minute, whatever Eurostar may say).
     
  25. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    But if we're going to get services to various places in the Netherlands and Germany, and potentially beyond (if there's a demand) then it needs to happen.

    From what I've read, it seems like such a faff that I have no desire to go to Marseille by Eurostar. I've only been once and I'd like to go again, but it would be flying by the sound of it, or taking two trains (which, given the perceived hassle means I'd probably fly).
     
  26. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    I can't see an Amsterdam service starting without checks being carried out just at each end, i.e. no heaving out of the train, just as there isn't from Brussels or Paris, at present.

    The market is demonstrably huge for Holland, i.e Rotterdam, Schiphol and Amsterdam, (or just Schiphol*, ironically) so I can't see any problem justifying the installation of them in a business case. That isn't the case with Lyon and Marseilles (yet) so I follow @RT4038 who points out that there the water is being tested before any pointless investment.

    *Schiphol could be a good choice for a one-stopper, thus a one barrier control 'service', as it has excellent connections to everywhere else. The irony is that pax would end up at the same destination as air pax, but don't have to walk a mile from the airline gates to get to the trains!
     
  27. HilversumNS

    HilversumNS Member

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    I doubt they would build UK Border Agency facilities in all 3 locations though, Rotterdam may miss out.

    If they do this, then all I need is HS2 to be built, connected to HS1 and I may be able to get a train from home almost to 'home' (almost.) Make it a sleeper service and I'd be ecstatic!! [ / dream ]
     
  28. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

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    The UK Border Agency have already ruled out any additional Border Control stations on the Continent.
    I daresay Eurostar could get over this by paying the full costs for the UK Border Agency to open more, but this and the need to pay for the provision of secure, sterile platforms (with baggage screening) at busy stations such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam etc (plus not forgetting that the sterile platforms at Brussels are west facing bays) will probably rule this out economically.
     
  29. duncanp

    duncanp Member

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    A new Eurostar terminal has been opened at the Gare Lille Europe last Thursday

    http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/region/e...inal-transmanche-a-lille-europe-ia0b0n2843848

    The article is in French, but the most relevant points are:-

    Capacity has been doubled, and the new terminal can cope with 550 passengers per hour.

    The total area has increased from 600 to 720 square metres.

    The number of border posts (UK and France) plus security scanners has been doubled.

    There is a new waiting room, with a Point Relais, which is a newsagents shop similar to WH Smith in the UK.

    I am going on a day trip to Lille on Saturday, so I will post back here after I come back.

    Regarding the journey from Marseille to London, on point worth noting is that the return service doesn't leave Marseille until after 3pm, because it has to wait for the train to come all the way from London. It would therefore be subject to delays, and it would have to be cleaned and serviced on arrival at Marseille.

    There are direct trains from Marseille to Lille Europe at 06:44, 07:14, 09:14 and 12:11 which will probably be more convenient for people travelling back to the UK, especially if their final destination is beyond London.

    You still have to change at Lille, but at least you don't have to do it at the same time as several hundred other people, and if you are on a through ticket you will have the CIV protection if the French TGV is late.
     
  30. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It definetly sounds like the best way to do things is direct Eurostar outbound and then TGV+Eurostar on the return leg to the UK.

    What are loadings like on the two direct services?
     
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