On the day the last Eurostar Disneyland Paris train departed from London, it emerged that the cross-Channel rail company could be forced to stop running trains from London to Rotterdam and Amsterdam for almost a year due to works on the train station in the Netherlands. capital.
Unless a solution is found, the Eurostar network would drop from a total of 13 stations open all year before Brexit to just four: London, Lille, Paris and Brussels.
Monday morning at 10.34am the last Eurostar “Disneyland Express” will depart from London St Pancras International. The direct high-speed rail link to the heart of the amusement park east of Paris has been running since 1996, except for a break during the Covid crisis.
But Eurostar is now ending the service due to additional bureaucracy due to Brexit. The UK government has negotiated for UK passport holders to become ‘third country nationals’ – with a hard European Union border set up at St Pancras station for outgoing passengers.
The design of London’s Eurostar terminal never envisaged that checks would involve stamping passports – and, from next year, taking the fingerprints and facial biometrics of UK travelers to the EU. These controls considerably increase the time taken by each passenger, and therefore the space required.
Eurostar limits the number of passengers on trains due to the physical constraints of its terminals.
The additional bureaucracy resulting from the decision to leave the European Union has led to the continued closure of two stations in Kent: Ebbsfleet and Ashford International. They closed when the Covid pandemic took hold, but Eurostar won’t reopen them until 2025 at the earliest – after the implementation of the entry/exit system planned for the EU.
The direct train from London St Pancras to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille has been discontinued. Calais-Fréthun station, serving the French port, is also mothballed.
Mark Smith, the international rail expert known as The Man in Seat Sixty-One, called the end of the Disneyland Paris route ‘another Brexit ‘benefit’ with calls to Ashford and Ebbsfleet dropped “.
He said: “With increased border controls and consequent reduced terminal capacity, Eurostar is doubling its main routes until the full effects of the new EU entry/exit system are known.”
Separately, Eurostar’s four daily trains each way between London and Amsterdam could be suspended for 11 months next year due to work on the historic Centraal station in the Dutch capital.
On Friday, Infrastructure Minister Vivianne Heijnen said a planned large-scale renovation combined with the large amount of space required for pre-departure checks for British passengers could mean the Netherlands is cut off for 11 months – with potentially 21 additional flights each. way between Amsterdam and London.
The international railway station is to be demolished, without its replacement being ready. The closure could last from June 2024 until the end of May 2025.
Eurostar launched the Amsterdam and Rotterdam service in 2018 and has carried 1.6 million passengers since then.
Rotterdam Centraal is not a financially viable option as only 160 passengers are allowed to board the train there due to post-Brexit constraints.
From 2036 Eurostar’s operation in the Dutch capital will be moved to the less convenient Amsterdam Zuid station.
Later on Monday, Eurostar chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave will meet the Dutch infrastructure minister – with the hope that space in a metro under the station could allow Eurostar service to continue during renovations.
A Eurostar spokesperson said The Independent: “We have been led to believe that the Eurostar Amsterdam-Route risks being discontinued indefinitely from April next year.
“The potential proposal to move the Dutch departure/arrival lounge from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is not viable for capacity and security reasons. If this were the only option offered by the ministry, the Eurostar group would not have no choice but to stop its Amsterdam-London service.
“This decision comes as we have just celebrated the 5th anniversary of the route, one of the most popular international rail services among passengers looking for efficient and environmentally friendly ways to travel across Europe. .”
Stations served all year round by the Eurostar
- Ashford International
- Calais Frethun