The Eurostar ( @Eurostar ) train opened its doors in 1994 and since then the company has carried more than 150 million people. It is hoped that this figure will only continue to rise now that the new Amsterdam route has been confirmed by Eurostar to Belgium operators. The line is expected to begin operating in December 2017 despite the financial struggles which have been felt by the rail operator in recent months.
As it stands, the Eurostar link already transports passengers from London to Amsterdam but it is not one continuous route. Instead, customers are expected to change at Brussels which adds to journey times, so in 2013 it was decided that Eurostar would launch a direct line to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The high-speed rail line to the city is planned to be a quicker and easier route than flying. The service will operate twice daily calling at Brussels Midi, Antwerp Central, Rotterdam Central, and Schiphol Airport. This journey span of 588km will range from 4h 9min to 4h 36min, and will include a stop of up to 28 minutes at Brussels Midi for security checks.
However, the proposed timetable for travelling to Amsterdam may come as a shock after the latest reports about Eurostar’s financial difficulties. After a 10% drop in revenue, Eurostar are cutting 1/12 of their services and 80 employees are expected to lose their jobs due to a “challenging environment”. A Eurostar spokesman said: “we need to manage our costs very carefully. That’s why we are looking at the size and shape of our business. We are committed to minimising the impact of these changes on our colleagues and our current focus is on managing any reductions through voluntary redundancies and sabbaticals as much as possible.”
Chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said at the time: “The uncertainty following the vote to leave, combined with the Brussels terrorist attack, has continued to dampen demand.” These financial difficulties will not effect the Amsterdam proposals with 14 scheduled departures from London. Services will set off from London St Pancras International at 08.04 and 17.04 Monday - Friday, 08.04 and 16.01 on Saturday, and 11.04 and 17.04 on Sunday. Departures from Amsterdam Central will be at 07.48 and 16.48 Monday - Friday, 07.48 and 14.18 on Saturday, and 09.25 and 17.21 on Sunday. It is hoped that this journey will be more appealing for business travellers than flying whilst also improving tourist transportation links. The international high speed rail operator Thalys will begin their project later this year to secure train paths, drivers and traction current for the tracks in Germany. The carriages will be able to transport 900 passengers each journey on the new Siemens rolling stock which will offer free wifi.
In Eurostar’s statement to Business Traveller it was announced that “The Amsterdam service is expected to start at the end of 2017 and that has been the case for some time. Work is progressing well, with on track testing of the e320s having started in April of this year. We continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to advance discussions on border checks, with the aim of finding a solution which will allow us to provide a fast and efficient service for our customers.”
Eurostar is now majority owned by the French state-owned rail company SNCF after the British government sold its share in 2015, so the company is dealing with existing financial strains.
Despite these complications Eurostar’s chief executive, Nicolas Petrovic said “With over 3 million passengers travelling by air between London and Amsterdam, this new route is key to our growth plans.”
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