The Anonymous Widower

Eurostar Confirms Start Date For Amsterdam – London Through Services

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

Points made in the article include.

  • A preview service ran on February 4th.
  • Two services a day will run from Amsterdam Centraal to London from April 30th.
  • Journey times will be around four hours.
  • Through journeys from Rotterdam to London will be possible from May 18th.
  • Tickets will be available from February 11th.

I’m fairly sure that after the success of the London to Amsterdam Centraal service, which will be four trains per day (tpd), by the end of this year and five tpd by the end of 2021, that this could be the start of something similar.

  • Five tpd would mean a capacity of 4,500 passengers or about the same as eleven Ryanair 737 Max 8 aircraft.
  • Four hours between city centres.
  • Current prices for a trip this month are under fifty pounds or under ninety for Premium Economy.

As Paris has sixteen tpd and Brussels has seven tpd, I could see that five tpd will be increased.

  • All London to Amsterdam Centraal services stop at Brussels to pick up passengers.
  • I’m sure that a method will be found to allow Amsterdam Centraal to London trains to drop passengers at Brussels.
  • If Rotterdam will get direct services, surely Antwerp and Schipol Airport should as well.
  • Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam Centraal runs at 10 tpd.
  • Thalys and Eurostar are merging and surely Eurostar between London and Amsterdam Centraal and Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam Centraal should be combined between the Belgian and Dutch capitals.

Get the Brussels and Amsterdam Centraal route right, after the merger of Thalys and Eurostar and I can see the following.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) between Amsterdam Centraal and Brussels.
  • One tph starting in London and the other in Paris.
  • Ability to pick up and set down International and domestic passengers at the intermediate stations; Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schipol Airport.

Surely, if a two tph service works between London and Edinburgh is highly successful, two tph between Brussels and Amsterdam Centraal would be the same.

The same philosophy could then be applied to the London/Paris routes via Brussels to Cologne/Frankfurt.

  • Eurostar has stated it wants to serve the two German cities.
  • Thalys runs services between Paris and Dortmund via Brussels, Liege, Cologne and Essen.
  • The Thalys frequency between Paris and Cologne is five tpd.

The London and Paris services could combine to run a joint service into Germany.

  • Destinations could be Cologne, Dortmund and Frankfurt with stops at Liege and Aachen.
  • London and Germany could probably sustain the currently proposed Amsterdam frequency of five tpd.

I’m looking forward to taking a direct train from London to Cologne.

 

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments

Lying Not Flying, As Nightjet Sleeper Train Reaches Brussels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first sentence.

Under the slogan ‘lying not flying’, Austrian Federal Railways launched its twice-weekly Wien – Brussels Nightjet overnight train on January 19.

These are some of the details of the service.

Two trains per week in both directions.

  • Brussels to Vienna on Mondays and Thursdays, leaving at 18:04 and arriving at 08:27
  • Vienna to Brussels on Sundays and Wednesdays, leaving at 20:38 and arriving at 10:55
  • The timings are such that you could leave London on the 12:58 Eurostar and have nearly two hours to get the sleeper.
  • Coming back, you would probably arrive in London at 14:05

I shall have to try this service.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 14 Comments

NightJet Expands To Amsterdam And Brussels

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Railway Gazette.

The Amsterdam Service

This is said about the NightJet service to Amsterdam.

  • It will run daily.
  • It will run between Amsterdam and Vienna via Munich.
  • Service will start in December 2020.
  • Journey time will be fourteen hours.
  • The Dutch government is supporting the service with €6.7million.

The Dutch Minister for Infrastructure is also quoted as saying that International rail traffic to and from The Netherlands has increased by 13% this summer and that they are targeting intra-European journeys of up to six hours.

Given that it has recently been announced that the Customs and Immigration problems on the Amsterdam to London services will soon be resolved, I can shhe the following happening in the next couple of years.

  • Tourists taking Eurostar from London to Amsterdam and then exploring the City before taking a NightJet to Vienna, after a night or two in Amsterdam.
  • More tourists exploring Europe by rail.
  • Eiurostar needing to run four daily services between London and Amsterdam.

I feel the Dutch Government are backing an obvious winner.

The Brussels Service

This is said about the NightJet service to Brussels.

  • ÖBB will trial a service to Brussels from January 2020
  • It will run between Brussels and Vienna via Dusseldorf and Innsbruck.
  • It will initially run two days per week.

The aim would be to go daily, at the same time as the start of the Amsterdam service.

Everything said about the Amsterdam service would apply to the Brussels service, but would it be used by European politicians going to and from their home countries.

Conclusion

These two services will open up Central Europe to civilised comfortable train travel for passengers starting in the Benelux countries, Northern France and South-East England.

Vienna is a hub for other NightJet services going further East, so after a day or two the options to travel further are many and varied.

Will we ever see a London and Vienna sleeper?

We might!

But consider!

  • The last Eurostar from London to Brussels leaves at 18:04 and arrives at arrives at 21:05
  • The last |Eurostar from London to Paris leaves at 20:01 and arrives at 23:17
  • You can get a good meal in the two top classes; Standard Premier and Business Premier.

It may be a better idea to run a later service from London to Brussels to connect with the NightJet

 

 

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

What Do You Do With An Unwanted Eurostar Train?

In Edition 865 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article which is entitled Eurostar ‘373s’ Leased To Thalys.

This is the first paragraph.

Class 373s that were due to be scrapped have instead been leased to Thalys for a year.

Class 373 trains and Thalys rolling stock are very similar, as both were built by GEC-Alsthom around the same time.

So just as ScotRail borrowed a few Class 365 trains to make up for a shortage, Thalys are borrowing a pair of Class 373 trains.

I wonder if passengers between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, that they are getting a train, that was destined for the scrapyard?

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ERTMS Rollout Between London-Paris-Brussels Agreed

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

An agreement has been reached by the infrastructure managers of the high-speed railway between London, Paris and Brussels – one of Europe’s busiest routes – to coordinate the rollout of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Rollout of ERTMS on these important routes must surely be a good idea, if it can enable extra and faster services on these busy routes.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brussels Station Has Got A Whole Lot Worse!

I think in future, if I have the choice of Eurostar terminals in Europe, I won’t be choosing Brussels!

I arrived in Brussels with about three hours to waste before my train to London left.

So I thought, I’d perhaps take a Metro train somewhere sensible and have coffee and breakfast. There’s nothing in the station that is gluten-free, so forget that one!

But they’ve changed the ticketing on the Metro and it looks like you need to use an Oyster-style ticket. I don’t do those sorts of things, as usually ou have to load a lot mopre money than the ticket and when you go back, you of course forget the card.

Why can’t these places allowed a contactless bankcard as a ticket like London?

So I thought, I’d go to the Tourist Office upstairs and complain! But that has been closed.

I tried the guy doing the train information for Belgian Railways and he couldn’t help. He also told me, he was fed up with the situation.

The Tourist Office is some distance away and you need to use the Metro.

So only go through Brussels, if you don’t want to use the Metro, get advice from the Tourist Office or eat something that is gluten-free.

I couldn’t even find a McDonalds, where I could buy some gluten-free chips.

If Brussels station is going to go downhill like this, the sooner, that Cologne is a Eurostar destination the better.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Disappointing Cologne

Cologne and its station disappointed me.

I was hungry and the hotel wasn’t exactly brimming with gluten-free food options. Or guests for that matter.

In fact, the whole city centre was dead.

Was everybody tucked up in bed watching the vEurovision Song Contest or because of the attacks in the city centre in the New Year, does everybody not go there any more.

In the end, I got supper in an Argentinian steak house, where the food was a lot better than the service.

In the morning, I didn’t have a ticket, so I arrived at the station a bit early, only to find that the machines didn’t seem to see the ticket I wanted and the ticket office wasn’t open.

It was a repeat of the customer service of the night before.

There are a couple of things to note in the pictures.

  • I had to go through all the rigmarole of getting a number to buy a ticket.
  • I had masses of paper for my ticket compared to what I get in the UK.
  • Comfortable seats were thin on the ground.
  • There was a smoking area on the platform.
  • Lots of trains seemed to be locomotive-hauled.

Eventually, I arrived in Brussels with plenty of time to spare.

But surely the biggest disappointment about Cologne is why the Germans haven’t developed it as a gateway for Cross-Channel passengers.

Consider.

  • Cologne has very good connections to major German cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, which are much better than those from Brussels or Paris.
  • A lot of visitors to Germany from the UK, may be going to Cologne anyway, so why force them to change trains in Brussels?
  • According to the Demographics of Cologne, the city has around a million inhabitants and is in a region of three million.
  • Cologne is about the same size as Birmingham, Glasgow or Liverpool/Manchester, so it could probably sustain a direct service.
  • If you need to waste an hour or so in Cologne, whilst changing trains, you are by the cathedral and the Rhine.
  • Cologne to London by train must be around four hours, which must be very competitive with flying.
  • A Sleeper train between London and Cologne would probably work. I’d use it!

I think the Germans can’t be bothered, as they’d have more passengers to cater for, who knew about customer service.

I know there’s the problem of Customs and Immigration, but if Deutsche Bahn were serious about running a service, I’m sure the problems are solvable.

I’ve been through small airports where excellent, efficient and probably very thorough systems had been setup to encourage traffic.

The problem could of course be the UK Border Force, who in my experience don’t seem to be the best in the world.

But then, the world needs to develop fast, efficient, automatic border checks, that I’m certain if we got right, would actually discourage illegal immigration.

As it is, we set up such weak checks, that they encourage criminals to encourage and fleece, those that might want to come to countries, where work might be available.

 

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back From The Hague

Before I left on Thursday, I wrote Off To The Hague Today and started the post like this.

Is there any other train journey between two capitals in the world, that is more difficult now than it was six or seven years ago?

It certainly doesn’t get any better.

Arriving in Brussels, the hourly train to Antwerp and The Hague left in half an hour, so I thought if I could get a ticket to The Hague, I might go direct.

So I tried a machine. But these only sell tickets to Belgium.

Ticket Office?

The queues were horrendous, so I got on the train to Antwerp as my Any Belgium Ticket would get me there!

At Antwerp, I took half an hour to buy a ticket and after a lunch of nuts and the worst coffee, I’ve ever had, I caught the next train to Den Haag HS, where I changed for Den Haag Laan van Nieuwe Oost Indie.

Express train it is not! On this main InterCity route, some of it has a speed limit of just 100 kph. Even London to Ipswich is a 160 kph line.

Coming back, there were a few delays and it took exactly four hours from the time I got on the InterCity train at Den Haag HS before I was on my on-time Eurostar leaving Brussels. Admittedly, forty-five minutes of so was checking-in and waiting for the Eurostar.

Incidentally, Den Haag to Brussels in 172.9 km. and can be driven in two hours.

London to Birmingham is actually slightly further and Virgin does it around 85 minutes.

If that isn’t a disgrace, I’m a Dutchman!

What wasn’t a disgrace was the food on Eurostar!

I’d forgot to ask for a gluten-free meal, but I was assured the main course was gluten-free. I’m pretty certain it was and it was also delicious.

So at least the last part of the journey went well and we arrived in St. Pancras on time!

Passenger services through the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, with services to and from St. Pancras starting in November 2007.

The new Class 374 trains to start a service to Amsterdam and Cologne are now sitting in sidings, with services supposed to start at the end of 2016.

Judging by the history of the development of services to places other than London, Brussels and Paris, I suspect that date will slip to somewhere about 2026 or even 2036.

The biggest problem seems to be the multiplicity of different electrical systems between France, Germany and The Netherlands. At least we chose our 25kVAC overhead system is the same as the French and has been since at least the 1960s.

I despair, that I’ll ever take a High Speed train direct to Rotterdam and then take a local train to The Hague.

No wonder the EU is such a mess, if the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands can’t agree on something purely technical like a connecting railway.

 

 

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Being Wise After The Event

The last two days of this trip were a bit hurried. Thinking about it a couple of days after I returned, I think I should have given myself another night in Berlin and come home via Cologne on the Friday.

This is possible at a cost of €154 in First Class leaving Berlin at 10:47. And then you have another  for €99  Standard Premier on the Eurostar. This totals at €253

Alternatively you can buy the Berlin to Cologne ticket from DB for €117 and then buy a ticket from Cologne to London on Eurostar for €114.  This route costs €231 and allows you to use any train you like between Cologne and Brussels.

I would think that on paper, the second route might not only be cheaper, but more convenient, as you could take a train to suit your Eurostar and perhaps have a good meal in Brussels, in the time you are waiting.

This joint ticket is available from several other cities like Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. Munich to London in Standard Class costs £127, although I can’t seem to find a train to get to Brussels from Munich.

May 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Home From Heidelberg

To get back home from Heildeberg, I took the train to Brussels changing at Cologne.  And as I usually do, I took one of the last Eurostars for London that arrived just after nine in the evening.

It was a long if beautiful journey from Heidelberg to Cologne, which went right up the western bank of the Rhine. Sadly my camera had expired, so the pictures will stay in my mind.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment