Railway to compete with airlines

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Nick W

Established Member
5 Nov 2005
HIGH-SPEED trains will compete with airlines between London and dozens of cities on the Continent from next year, when three missing links in Europe’s 186mph rail network will be filled.

Eurostar is joining forces with high-speed rail operators in six European countries to offer through tickets and fast connections.

Journey times from London to Amsterdam, Cologne, Strasbourg and Zurich will be cut by up to two hours, making rail a fast alternative to air travel for the first time in 30 years.

From November 14 next year Eurostar passengers will no longer have to spend the first 30 miles of their journey on slow, suburban lines in South London.

The completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which was renamed High Speed 1 (or HS1) yesterday, will allow Eurostar trains to accelerate to 186mph (300km/h) within minutes of leaving their new terminus at St Pancras. They will reach the Channel Tunnel 70 miles away in half an hour, shaving about 25 minutes off the journey time to Paris and Brussels. London to Paris will take 2 hours and 15 minutes.

With a change of trains at Lille or Brussels, passengers will be able to transfer to two other high-speed lines being completed next year: from Brussels to Amsterdam and from Paris to Strasbourg.

The fastest time between London and Amsterdam will be cut by an hour and 20 minutes to three and a half hours. Train times will be synchronised to allow about 15 minutes to change platforms at Brussels.

Richard Brown, Eurostar’s chief executive, said that the cheapest fares between London and Amsterdam would be less than £100, to compete with budget airlines. Eurostar believes that security measures at airports, which force passengers to arrive earlier for flights, have made rail more attractive.

Flying between London and Amsterdam takes an hour, but the total journey from city centre to city centre takes about the same as high-speed trains will take from the end of next year.

Eurostar is also considering running direct trains from London to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which serves more destinations than Heathrow and can be much cheaper for transatlantic flights.

Europe’s high-speed rail network will be promoted by Rail Team, a new body linking Eurostar with train operators in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Passengers will be able to view a single timetable and book through tickets.

Eurostar will promote itself as the green alternative to air travel. It has published a study which shows that, per passenger, a Eurostar train emits ten times less carbon dioxide than a typical aircraft flying between London and Paris.

Mr Brown said that the average fare would increase slightly from next year but the cheapest return fare of £59 would be maintained.

Frequency will be increased, and trains will operate earlier and later, with services reaching Paris or Brussels before 9am.

Eurostar’s terminus at Waterloo will close on November 13. Eurostar decided that it would be too expensive to have two London terminals.

Looking good so far, hopefully the French will soon get their act together and build a more direct railway from the chunnel - paris and slash it under 2 hrs.

Hopefully railway travel from anywhere in UK to anywhere in Europe will one day be cheaper than aeroplane.
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