Eurostar Opens For Business At St Pancras
London, Paris and Brussels join the two hour club
By TTM on 15 November 2007 in News
-186 mph services from wonderfully restored station using High Speed 1 signal a new era in short-haul travel
Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train operator linking the UK and the Continent, has launched services from the wonderfully restored St Pancras International station, its new home in central London.
The first departure, bound for Paris, marked the start of a new era in faster and greener rail travel between the UK, France and Belgium, bringing Europe’s neighbours even closer together.
Following a 15-hour, overnight move from Eurostar’s former London terminal at Waterloo International, which is now closed, the first train left at 11.01am saluted by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
In a ceremony before departure, Eurostar Chief Executive Richard Brown and Friends of the Earth executive director Tony Juniper named the train ‘Tread Lightly’ – the title of Eurostar’s initiative to reduce its environmental impact.
The naming marked Eurostar becoming the world’s first train operator to offer carbon neutral journeys, at no extra cost to travellers. On board ‘Tread Lightly’ for the journey on the UK’s first 186 mph railway were 400 members of the public, invited to travel in recognition of their efforts to reduce environmental impacts at a national level or in their local communities.
Eurostar’s move to St Pancras International cuts journey times between London, Paris and Brussels by at least 20 minutes, creating an even more attractive alternative to short-haul flights for millions more people across Britain. The new station, together with next door King’s Cross and nearby Euston, can be accessed by rail from both north and south of the capital, with connections to seven mainline services and six London Underground lines. Eurostar has so far received more than 1.2 million bookings for travel on High Speed 1, up 16% on the same period a year ago.
City centre-to-city centre journeys between London and Brussels now take just 1 hour 51 mins non-stop, London-Paris 2 hours 15 mins, and London-Lille only 1 hour 20 mins.
From today, travellers can book through fares from 68 UK towns and cities - such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Edinburgh - to Brussels, Paris, Disneyland Resort Paris, and Lille; and onward to 75 connecting destinations across France and to any station in Belgium.
St Pancras International has been restored to its full 19th century glory and is now a ‘destination station’ for 21st century use. It boasts Europe’s longest champagne bar, which runs for 97 metres right alongside the new Eurostar platforms. Over the coming weeks the champagne bar will be joined by a range of independent shops, a gastro-pub and a world-class brasserie.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said: “Today marks a new dawn for short-haul travel in Europe. Our move to St Pancras International and the introduction of through fares make Eurostar even more accessible to travellers across Britain. We will carry passengers with greater speed, ease and reliability than ever before, and our travellers will have the extra reassurance of knowing that they are making far less environmental impact compared with flying.
“St Pancras International, the London home of Eurostar, sets a new standard for train stations around the world. Passengers will experience an unrivalled level of service and comfort. They will find it even easier to connect with towns and cities across Britain. High-speed rail represents, quite simply, the future of European travel.”
Guillaume Pepy, Chairman of Eurostar, said: "Exactly thirteen years after our launch, Eurostar today begins a new chapter – linking Paris and Brussels with London at high speed all the way from the Channel tunnel to London and welcoming travellers at St Pancras International, one of the most beautiful stations in the world. This is a major step towards achieving Eurostar’s ambitions of bringing European capital cities ever closer together."
Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: “Today is a landmark day for green travel and the first step towards making short-haul flights a thing of the past. Eurostar shows that short-haul rail travel is not only better for the environment than flying, but that it can also be quicker, easier and more comfortable as well.
“The Government should now do all it can to encourage people to switch from planes to trains for the short distances between Europe’s great cities. It must include emissions from aircraft in its proposed Climate Change Law. We need a revolution in the way we travel in order to tackle climate change and rail is the way forward.”
Services from Eurostar’s second new station, Ebbsfleet International just off junction 2 of the M25 near the Dartford crossing and Bluewater shopping centre in north Kent, will begin on Monday 19 November. Journey times will be 10 minutes shorter still than from St Pancras.
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