The Anonymous Widower

Transmanche Metro

This is an idea that I found on Wikipedia for Stratford station, which talks of the proposed “Transmanche Metro” service to Calais via local stations.

It appears to contain a certain degree of kite-flying and some of the references seem to link it with French politics.  There is this article on a holiday home web site.

On the other hand a direct route from Stratford in East London to Lille, via Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais might prove to be a lower cost alternative to Eurostar, especially for commuters, business and families, especially if it offered a virtually turn-up-and-go service.

The problems with setting it up would probably be more to do with the vested interests of Eurostar and SNCF, than anything to do with access to the Channel Tunnel or safety issues.

Will it ever happen?

Probably not for a couple of years or so, but then who’d have thought that such as Ryanair and easyJet would grow so big, when they started by providing a low-cost alternative to the major airlines. So don’t predict anything!

June 2, 2011 - Posted by | Transport | , ,


  1. European law has mandated ‘open access’ on international rail routes since the start of 2010. So Eurostar, as the incumbent operator, has no veto over competing passenger rail services through the Channel Tunnel.

    Actually the biggest hurdle to this excellent idea is probably the border control issue. Because the UK in particular is so paranoid, there is the requirement for check-in and border control before boarding, and trains running to France cannot carry domestic passengers within the UK. This is unlike the usual practice for trains running across borders, where any border checks are undertaken on the train, usually while it is on the move. This was even true for trains running across the Iron Curtain when it was there (and they carried domestic passengers on both sides).

    I believe that travelling from Ashford to Calais by train should be as simple as, say, Swindon to Bristol, with a regular clockface-timetabled service for which one can walk up, buy a ticket and hop on. And I certainly agree that Eurostar is absurdly expensive for turn-up-and-go passengers. But having to check in to the train would reduce the usefulness of a turn-up-and-go service (who’s going to want a passport control as part of their daily commute?), and not being able to carry domestic passengers between Ashford and London would seriously limit its viability.

    Comment by Alex Macfie | June 5, 2011 | Reply

    • I agree about the border control issue, however as an Englishman, with two dominant immigrant lines of Jew and Huguenot, I would be discriminating aginst myself to oppose immigration.

      I’m one of the few Brits, who think we should join Shengen and the Euro.

      I suspect though, that technology could solve all that, especially if in a few years bank cards become universal for paying for transport.

      On an aside have you ever been to the British or Imperial War Museums lately. On some days, they are crammed with French kids, who’ve come over on Eurostar to enjoy our free museums, which are just too expensive in France. A French teacher told me that! So we have a lot to gain from a good alternative route.

      Comment by AnonW | June 5, 2011 | Reply

      • I agree that the UK should join Schengen (immediately), and (eventually) the Euro. The obsession with maintaining our own borders is surely harming trade and tourist links with other countries, as well as making movement to and from the rest of the EU unnecessarily complicated.

        I work in a big London museum (albeit back-of-house as an IT person) so I’m flattered that people are coming all the way from France to enjoy our free entry :).

        And sure, many people would benefit from a more ‘straightforward’ cross-Channel passenger rail service, perhaps in ways that aren’t obvious at first sight.

        Last time I travelled to Paris I flew. Partly this is because I live in south-west London and didn’t want the hassle of the cross-London Tube transfer to St Pancras. Heathrow is easier to reach. Also I was meeting someone at CDG airport and going by train would likely have involved double-backing out of central Paris. If there were a Transmanche Metro I would have seriously considered going by train: taking ordinary domestic trains to Ashford, changing there into the TM, and there would be straightforward connections via Calais or Lille to CDG airport. Indeed, one interesting likely consequence of a TM would be that the most accessible (via public transport) major international airport from much of Kent would be Paris CDG! And why not?

        Comment by Alex Macfie | June 5, 2011

  2. Incidentally, this is a link to a recent local news article about support in Kent for a Transmanche Metro

    Comment by Alex Macfie | June 5, 2011 | Reply

    • You can already get a train to CDG. You change at Lille. I went all the way to Nice by train and coming back that stopped at CDG.

      I saw you worked in a museum from your web site. I hope the museum is making the French welcome. The teacher I spoke too, said it was all good language practice, as we don’t put anything in French. Incidentally the group I spoke to, had ten kids of about eight and just two teachers and they had had an early start from France and would get back late. What would British Health and Safety have to say about that?

      Comment by AnonW | June 5, 2011 | Reply

      • sorry for long delay, was busy 🙂 unfortunately there’s not much signage in my museum in languages other than English, tho’ maybe there are leaflets. I certainly hear other languages (including French) being spoken by visitors.

        Comment by Alex Macfie | June 25, 2011

  3. Sure, I know it’s possible to get to CDG by train, but the ticketing — with poor integration and high cost unless one books well in advance — is a serious disincentive.

    Comment by Alex Macfie | June 25, 2011 | Reply

  4. […] require probably an extra six very long platforms. And those two platforms would be ideal for the TransManche Metro, if that were to be built. After all Stratford is a good interchange now and will be better […]

    Pingback by Is Making Stratford London’s HS2 Terminus A Good Idea? « The Anonymous Widower | January 6, 2013 | Reply

  5. […] In 2011, I posted  about an idea for a Trans Manche Metro. […]

    Pingback by Getlink pushes budget train service between London and Paris to rival Eurostar « The Anonymous Widower | July 7, 2018 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.