The Anonymous Widower

Eurostar Amsterdam To London Treaty Formally Signed

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

The first paragraph says it all.

The treaty allowing full customs and security procedures for Eurostar passengers at Amsterdam and Rotterdam has been formally signed, said the Department for Transport.

Perhaps, next time I go to Amsterdam, I’ll come back by train.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Put Thameslink On The Tube Map Says London Assembly

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A report on improving accessibility on London’s Transport services has called for the fully accessible Thameslink line to be on the Tube map as a matter of some urgency.

I’m all for this happening.

I use Thameslink quite a bit, as if I’m in some places South of the River and am coming home, taking Thameslink to West Hampstead Thameslink and then using the Overground to Canonbury, from where I walk home, is a convenient route.

  • It is step-free.
  • There is a Marks and Spencer at West Hampstead, where I can do a bit of food shopping.
  • Walking from Canonbury station to my house is gently downhill.

These are some other thoughts about Thameslink,

The Underground Train With A Toilet

Sometimes, I also find it doubly-convenient, as I need to spent a penny or more. Often, the toilets on Thameslink trains are free in the tunnels under London!

How many other Underground trains have toilets?

Obviously, Eurostar does, but does anybody know of any other trains that run deep under the surface, that have toilets?

Do Thameslink Want The Extra Passengers That Being On The Map Would Bring?

This may seem a dumb question, but sometimes, I do wonder, if the answer is that they don’t!

Thameslink Would Surely Make A Good Travel Partner For Eurostar

Increasing, many visitors from the Continent to London and the South East are travelling across the Channel using the excellent Eurostar.

As the Thameslink and Eurostar platforms at St. Pancras International, there could be mutual advantages to both companies to be partners.

Suppose you were travelling on these routes.

  • Paris and Gatwick
  • Brussels and Greenwich
  • Amsterdam and Brighton
  • Rotterdam and Luton Airport

And for one reason or other you didn’t want to fly; climate change, you like trains, awkward baggage or just plain fear of flying.

Surely, using Eurostar and Thameslink would be the obvious travel companies.

Note that Thameslink have posters, saying that they are the ideal way to get to Luton Airport.

Do they have posters, saying they are the ideal way to get to Eurostar at St. Pancras?

If I was running Thameslink, I’d do the following.

  • Make sure, that all Thameslink stations accepted contactless ticketing using bank or credit cards.
  • Put information and advertising on Eurostar trains and stations, telling passengers how to get to and from any Thameslink station without buying a physical ticket.
  • Devise a simple add on ticket, that would be printed on your Eurostar boarding pass or held in Eurostar’s app.
  • Market Thameslink to the French as the UK’s answer to the RER.
  • Put travel information in at least Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, at St. Pancras station.

I would think, that a properly thought-out plan, could be a nice little earner for Thameslink.

 

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Direct London-Bordeaux Service By 2022 – SNCF

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

Diego Diaz, who is International President of SNCF is quoted as saying this.

With the view to opening up to the international scene, SNCF Gares & Connexions and HS1 Ltd, the owner of St Pancras station, have decided to twin the two stations and the operating teams.

I hope I can be on the first service, when it happens.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

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

More Eurostar Services Between London And Amsterdam Are On The Way

This article on NL Times is entitled NS, Eurostar To Run 5 Trains Daily Between Netherlands & London; More Sustainable Than Flying, Says NS.

The article contains these points.

  • Five trains per day between London and the Netherlands.
  • This is a total of 4,500 p-assengers in both directions.
  • The train only creates twenty percent of the carbon emissions per passenger journey.
  • Currently, twenty-three percent of passengers between London and the Netherlands use rail.
  • A fourth train will be added in 2020, with a fifth in 2021.
  • Eliminating the Customs check in Brussels when travelling to the UK, should bring Amsterdam to London times to around four hours.

NS or Dutch Railways seem fairly bullish about expanding the services between London and the Netherlands.

I believe that NS are right.

  • The British and especially Londoners are very used to taking four hour journeys on a train to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  • The British with their poor language skills, don’t consider the Netherlands to be as foreign as Belgium, France and Germany
  • The Dutch will surely develop better rail connections from Amsterdam into Northern Germany.
  • Will the Dutch persuade Austrian Railways to run NightJet services from Amsterdam to Central Europe?

I also feel that just as people cruise from port-to-port, there will be a parallel development of rail cruising from city-to-city. Surely, Amsterdam would be a place for the cautious to start.

Conclusion

NS seem to be thinking of more than five trains per day and I wouldn’t be surprised to see around ten trains per day before 2030.

 

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

London St Pancras Twins With Bordeaux Saint-Jean To Promote Direct Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Channel Tunnel rail link concessionaire HS1 Ltd announced a twinning agreement between its London St Pancras International station and SNCF’s Bordeaux Saint-Jean station on October 18, saying this would help to progress the development of proposals for a through passenger service between the cities.

I tend to think, that all twinning arrangements are mainly about giving directors, mayors and those at the top, junkets and expensive free dinners.

It is much more important that the links go much deeper and hat those lower down meet the important objectives.

In the case of this twinning, will it accelerate the start of a direct London and Bordeaux service, which could be much-needed or a waste of resources.

Let’s get on with trialling the service, rather than wasting time thinking about it and posing for photographs.

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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

The Missing Link At St. Pancras Station

This picture was taken inside St. Pancras station.

I was standing in front of the glass security wall, towards the East (Kings Cross) side of the station.

On the British Library side of the station it is possible to walk along to the four platforms for East Midlands Railway trains.

I wonder why, there isn’t a link down the Kings Cross side of the station, so that it would be possible to walk from the front of the station to the Souyjeastern HighSpeed commuter routes.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Thalys-Eurostar Merger Planned Under Green Speed Initiative

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

This is the first paragraph.

SNCF, SNCB and the Patina Rail investment vehicle announced on September 27 their intention to combine the Eurostar and Thalys high speed rail operations, reporting that outline proposals were being presented to their respective boards.

Eurostar runs or has ambition to run these services.

  • London and Paris Nord via Calais and Lille
  • London and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy
  • London and Bordeaux via Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Tours
  • London and Amsterdam via Calais, Lille, Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • London and Frankfurt via Calais, Lille, Brussels, Liege, Aachen and Cologne.
  • In Winter services run to skiing resorts.
  • In Summer services run to the sun.

Thalys runs these services.

  • Paris Nord and Amsterdam via Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • Paris Nord and Cologne via Brussels, Liege and Aachen.
  • Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Amsterdam via Brussels, Antwerp, Ritterdam and Schipol Airport
  • In Winter services run to skiing resorts.
  • In Summer services run to the sun.

Eurostar and Thalys seem to have a good fit of routes.

  • Both have two Northern terminals; Amsterdam and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Both serve Schipol Airport
  • Both serve Brussels Midi, which is in the city centre.
  • Both serve Paris Nord, which is a large well-connected station just to the North of the city centre.
  • Both serve Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy, which is in Disneyland Paris, has a connect to Charles de Gaulle airport and is a major hub for French TGV services.
  • Both have winter and summer holiday services.

You could almost consider the combined networks to be the following.

  • A high-frequency Paris and Brussels service.
  • Northern branches to Amsterdam and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • A branch to London via Lille, Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
  • A Southern branch to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy for Disneyland Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport and onward travel to much of France.

It’s all very simple really and as they say Simple is Efficient.

A few thoughts.

London And Amsterdam Services

As an example, suppose you are going from London to Amsterdam at the present time..

  • There are three direct services taking around four hours.
  • There are four services with a change at Brusseks Midi to Thalys taking ten minutes short of five hours.

You could  catch a direct train, but sometimes, you might have to change at Brussels Midi.

There is no problem with immigration control, as that has been done in London.

Going from Amsterdam to London, services are as follows.

  • There seems to be eight daily services, taking ten minutes short of five hours.
  • They also seem to be very heavily booked.

There is no problem with immigration control, as that is done in a forty-five minute stopover in Brussels.

Experienced travellers, and some following a more relaxed schedule, might appreciate the stopover in Brussels, but most travellers would prefer a direct service through Brussels.

I suspect too that Eurostar or the future joint operator would prefer direct services.

  • It would increase capacity between Brussels and Amsterdam via Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schipol Airport.
  • It would increase domestic capacity.
  • The organisation of the trains and onboard staff would surely be easier.

The only problem, is doing the immigration control on the journey to London.

Solutions have been suggested, where Amsterdam and London services are two half trains; one for domestic passengers and one for those going to London, but I’m sure there is a solution out there.

London And Cologne Or Frankfurt Services

The same rules will apply.

Going out will be easy, but coming back will probably need a change of train at Brussels.

Was There A German Solution?

Some years ago, I remember reading that Deurche Bahn were intending to run services from Amsterdam and Cologne to London, where the two trains divided and combined at Brussels.

Using current Thalys and Eurostar times and assuming a fifteen minute stop at Brussels, would probably have meant these times.

  • London to Amsterdam – four hours and thirty minutes.
  • London to Cologne – four hours and twenty minutes.
  • London to Frankfurt- five hours and forty minutes.

Note.

  1. Amsterdam and Cologne services are fairly similar times, which must improve the utilisation of the trains.
  2. Like Amsterdam, the station in Cologne is in the heart of the historic city.
  3. You can get a train to virtually anywhere in Germany from Cologne. But note that Berlin will be a six-hour journey.

As the London to Amsterdam service has been successful, I’m sure London to Cologne would attract passengers.

Were the Germans going to organise Amsterdam and Cologne services, like this?

  • Each service could be a double-train, which could be joined and split quickly, as some operators do.
  • This train would meet all the Channel Tunnel regulations.
  • Going out from London, the double-train would arrive in Brussels and split with one train going to Amsterdam and the other to Cologne.
  • Going into London,, the two trains would join at Brussels and be just another Brussels to London service.

But as with the Amsterdam service, the major problem is immigration control.

There is also the problem of utilising the spare capacity North of Brussels for inbound services to London, which could increase the cash-flow generated by the services.

Or were the Germans thinking in a more innovative manner?

I do wonder if using double trains from Amsterdam and Cologne, with one train for London and the other for Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy could have been in the German’s minds.

With some creative joining amd splitting in a long platform at Brussels Midi, could it be made to work?

If Eurostar and Thalys were two parts of the same operator, I suspect that it is more likely that a service pattern will be found, that delivers the following.

  • More direct services between London and Amsterdam and Cologne.
  • Extra capacity between Amsterdam and Cologne and Paris and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.
  • More efficient utilisation of trains and oboard staff.

It would surely attract more passengers.

Brussels Midi

Brussels Midi station can be considered to be a prototype for the ideal station on both the main network and the London branch.

It will have to do the following.

  • Handle through services between Landon and Amsterdam and London and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Terminate some services between London and Brussels.
  • Allow local passengers to use through services to and from London to access other stations on the route.
  • Handle through services between Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Amsterdam and Paris or Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Cologne or Frankfurt.
  • Allow Passengers to and from London to use the other services.
  • Handle immigration for passengers to and from London.
  • Allow a passenger from London to connect to any onward services at the station.
  • Allow a passenger to London to arrive on any train and after checking through immigration catch the train to London.
  • The station has full UK Border Control.

It’s complicated, but I suspect that it’s more of an architectural and train design problem than anything else.

Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy

If Brussels Midi can be made to work efficiently, the same thing can be organised at Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.

  • It is very close to Disneyland Paris.
  • It has good connection to Charles-de-Gaulle Airport
  • There are ten TGV services to other parts of France.
  • There are two Oiugo low cost high-speed services to other parts of France.
  • There are also some international services.
  • The station has full UK Border Control.

Could the plan be to develop this hub close to the airport, with train services to destinations in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom?

London To Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy

Eurostar already has direct services between London and Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy.

  • Some services going to destinations further South use this route.
  • London to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy takes two hours forty-nine minutes.

Will the proposed London and Bordeaux service stop at Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy?

  • This would give Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy, will all its connections and attractions another service.
  • If the service stopped at Lille Europe, this would double the High Speed service between Lille and Bordeaux.

Could it be that the London and Bordeaux service will also improve internal French High Speed services?

If SNCF control Eurostar, Thalys and the French TGVs, this must give scope for the services to compliment each other and run economically.

The UK Immigration Control Problem

I can see UK Immigration Control being centred on the following stations.

  • Brussels Midi
  • Lille Europe
  • Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy
  • Paris Nord

These would work as they do now.

Outbound services are not a problem, as it is all handled in London. I have travelled from London to Amsterdam a couple of times and notice how seats vacated in Brussels are used by other passengers between Brussels and The Netherlands.

I believe that it would be possible to develop an efficient system to handle incoming passengers to the UK.

Consider the following.

  • Passengers to and from the UK could be asked for passport details when checking in on-line.
  • Passengers for the UK would use an automatic passport gate, as is common at airports and on Eurostar.
  • Passengers for the UK would sit in a separate part of the train, isolated from the domestic passengers, except in an emergency.
  • If a train stopped at say Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy and Lille Europe, UK Border Force could check passengers on the train between these two stations.

These and other ideas can surely be developed.into a system that would satisfy the most xenophobic of polticians and their supporters.

Conclusion

This proposed merger could be good for High Speed rail in Europe and the UK.

The French government also hopes it could be good for France.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 6 Comments

Amsterdam – London Through Train Agreement To Be Signed Shortly

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

This is the first paragraph.

The international agreement which would permit the operation of through passenger services between the Netherlands and the UK is expected to be signed in October, State Secretary for Justice & Security Ankie Broekers-Knol told the Dutch parliament’s lower house on September 25.

I can’t wait!

Hopefully, a similar agreement will be signed soon with the Germans to allow direct London and Frankfurt services via Cologne.

I can only see one problem!

What if Amsterdam, Germany, Bordeaux and all the other destinations that are being talked about are hugh successes?

Will St.Pancras cope?

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments