Questions about using Eurostar trains.

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by swt class 450, 27 Dec 2016.

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  1. swt class 450

    swt class 450 Established Member

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    I just have a few questions about using Eurostar trains. I always travel by Ferry (usually from Dover to Calais) when i have visited other countries so i have never used Eurostar yet (but i am considering possibly using it soon). If anyone has used Eurostar or knows the answer to these questions that would be much appreciated.

    Can you just turn up at the station on the day and buy a train ticket? If so what is latest that you can arrive at the station? And is there a website like www.brfares.com that shows their fares if you just turn up and buy on the day?

    Do you have to have a seat reservation? If so are you allowed to sit elsewhere if it is empty and are you allowed to stand?

    Do you have to get a ticket for a specific train? Or can you get a ticket that lets you use any train on that day (like National Rail tickets do). Can you break your journey?

    Is there any security and passport control? If so what does it involve? Is it very strict and are there lots of restrictions on what you can bring? Is it similar to Airport security (i have never been on an Airplane but have heard that Airport security is very strict)?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Eurostar has compulsory reservation, so yes, you have to stick to a certain train. Security is Airport Style, a minimum of 30 min is needed, preferably more.
    Last time I travelled, there were two passport controlls at St. Pancras, UK exit and French/Schengen entry controlls.
     
  3. AlexNL

    AlexNL Member

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    Reservations are compulsory. Depending on the type of your ticket, you can exchange your reservation for an earlier or later train either before or after departure, depending on availability. You are guaranteed a seat.
     
  4. Phil.

    Phil. Established Member

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    Just to make something clear. Where advice has been given about the necessity of making a reservation you don't reserve a seat when buying a ticket. The number of passengers carried is limited by the number of seats on the train. So when you buy a ticket you restricted to the specific train and are allocated a seat in a coach on that train. Think airlines. However, if you do manage to board the wrong train - it's pretty common when people turn up very early - unlike domestic TOCs you won't be treated like a criminally minded cash cow. Normally you'll get "found out" before departure when the rightful owner of the seat allocation turns up. Ticket checks on the train are virtually non-existent, there are no Eurostar RPIs.
    There's nothing really to stop you sitting in an unoccupied seat but be prepared to move if someone joins at an intermediate station who has that seat allocation.
    There are a number of things that will not be allowed ranging from the obvious - knives - to the not so obvious - drinks in containers.
     
  5. Polarbear

    Polarbear Established Member

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    Fares vary on Eurostar, dependant on time/date of travel and of course, class of travel. The company operates more in the style of an airline rather than a traditional rail company, and fares are pitched very much towards encouraging advance booking in standard class. A fare chart can be found on the Eurostar website, (the full one, not the mobile one). I've searched through the site map and found this useful section on fares. http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/travel-planning/eurostar-fares-and-fees

    In the early days, Eurostar used to sell "walk up" day returns at weekends for £59 on the day. Those days are long gone though & whilst it's possible to buy tickets on the day of travel, they will not be cheap. If you intend going first class, you will be ok, but at £245 single, it's definitely not a cheap option!

    You have to have a valid passport & will be required to show this at customs. Unlike airlines, you can take 2 bags with you for no charge & regardless of weight, (as long as you can move it, you should be ok). Check in is up to 30 minutes before departure, but I'd be inclined to leave a bit more time if possible.
     
    Last edited: 28 Dec 2016
  6. Mainline421

    Mainline421 Member

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    Yes, but it will be very expensive. The latest you can arrive is 30 minutes before for standard/premier or 10 minutes for business premier (1st).

    Reservations are mandatory but I believe standing can occur as full price tickets are still sold after all seats are full.
    You can get flexible tickets, but they are very expensive 1st class only. These allow travel on any train but you still must select one when booking and then you can just turn up later or earlier for another train if you wish.
    Not airport security strict as liquids etc. can still be taken on board.

    Seat61.com has all the information you could need.
     
  7. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    I had the impression that standing isn't permitted, and they don't sell more tickets than seats:
    when I came back from Paris this year on a heavily-disrupted day, the check-in was open while two trains were in the platforms. Once I was on board, they announced that we wouldn't be leaving as we had too many people on board, and until the people without a ticket for that specific train had got off, we weren't going anywhere. They said this was down to the regulations for the Channel Tunnel, which don't allow more passengers than seats.
     
  8. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    In theory you can buy a ticket on the day but it's very expensive so unless you'e got money to burn you'll need to book ahead. In layman's terms it's Advanced only.

    You'll need a passport, latest check in is 30 minutes before departure. You have to go through airport style security but it's more relaxed, eg you can take a can of deoderant larger than 100ml.
     
  9. Phil.

    Phil. Established Member

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    Standing in normal circumstances is not permitted. As I stated in an earlier post the number of tickets sold is limited by the seating capacity of the train. What will be sold as a last resort are the tip-up seats in the door vestibules of 373s - I have no knowledge or experience of the German trains - both First and Standards.
    The only time standing has occurred has been when a failed train has had it's passengers decanted on to a service rescue train.
    Oh, and don't just turn up on the day and buy a ticket, you may as well stand on a street corner and hand out tenners. Book as far ahead as possible, this is a railway that thinks that it's an airline.

    I'm not theorising or quoting a mate who's brother knows a bloke who met a bloke in a pub that.........
    I spent 18 years in Eurostar train operations.
     
    Last edited: 27 Dec 2016
  10. 317666

    317666 Established Member

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    From memory you are allowed to sit in the vestibule tip-ups if you prefer, except for those at the very rear (and front?) of the train whilst it's in the tunnel.
     
  11. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    That is correct, I have used those seats on a few occasions when the computer allocated me a particularly poor seat position. Note that the new 374s do not have tip up seats, however.

    These days I know which seat choices I want and do a specific seat selection when I book my tickets.

    One other thing to be aware of - they have recently slapped on a surcharge for booking in person at St Pancras; I think it's £20 per booking ( NOT per ticket ).
     
  12. swt class 450

    swt class 450 Established Member

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    Thanks for all the info. Its very helpful. Its a shame that Eurostar dont cater more for those who want to just turn up before their train on the day. I think i will just have to pay extra and turn up on the day and buy my ticket. I dont really like booking in advance or restricting myself to using a certain train.

    If i was to buy my ticket on the day is it a simple process? Do i just go to the ticket office and ask and pay for my ticket? Or do you have to give your name and address and passport and personal details?

    Also what exactly does "Check In" mean (for example it says you must "Check In" 30 minutes before your train)? Does this mean the latest you can buy a ticket is 30 minutes before your train? Or does this mean the latest you can go through security or passport checks is 30 minutes before your train?
     
  13. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Check in, scanning your ticket at the security gate.
     
  14. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    It's a simple process, but can be quite slow as there are only a few ticket desks ( they're opposite the check in ) and be prepared to pay through the nose assuming there are any seats available.

    You will need to show ID, such as a passport, but you'll have that with you anyway if you're planning on travelling straight away.
     
  15. trainmania100

    trainmania100 Established Member

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    I never knew it was airport style security
    I havent seen those metal detector things at ashford nor st pancras
     
  16. Polarbear

    Polarbear Established Member

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    I appreciate why you may be reluctant to book in advance, but with Eurostar, it is much, much cheaper to do so. It really does operate more like an airline than a rail service and prices it's market accordingly.

    If you do turn up on the day, be prepared to wait until a train has availability as it's unlikely that Eurostar will sell tickets for trains that are shown as full. In any case, you are pretty much tied to one train as even if you turn up on the day, you will be allocated a seat on a specific service & whilst you can change this, I can't see why you would want to.

    It's likely that you will need to show your passport when buying a ticket over the counter (I haven't done so since the days of the cheap weekend returns back in the mid 1990's).

    As regards "check in", I would allow 30 minutes to go through customs & luggage checks, longer to buy the ticket on the day. In practice, it can be quicker, but bear in mind that the seating capacity of a 374 set is around 900 & if it's full, customs will be somewhat busy!
     
  17. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Passport control and luggage scan before enterering the terminal is very un-rail like. Only the one element missing as you mentioned. Also the concourse experience is more like an airport und than a station.
     
  18. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Have you seen how much it costs just before departure? Just look at the website and pretend to book the next train. The lowest fare for the 2001 to Paris (just over an hour from now) is £180, one-way.
     
  19. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Do you intend to do the same on your return as well? Hope you can fund a couple of days in Paris (although trains from Brussels are less busy, mostly)
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2017
  20. Stonesourscotty

    Stonesourscotty Member

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    To the person who said drinks are banned from Eurostar i took 48 can's on the train last time so i'd check before travel
     
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