Eurostar launches London-Amsterdam route

Channel Tunnel train operator Eurostar is launching direct services between London and Amsterdam.

Trains will run twice daily from 4 April, with the journey from St Pancras to Amsterdam taking three hours and 41 minutes.

But for an initial period, the Eurostar service will only run direct one-way, from London to the Dutch city.

Passengers travelling from Amsterdam to London will have to change at Brussels to clear passport controls.

Eurostar says the connection at Brussels is a temporary measure until the British and Dutch governments reach an agreement to allow passport checks to be conducted on departure in the Netherlands. It says this should be in place by the end of 2019.

Analysis: Victoria Fritz, BBC transport correspondent

Image copyright Getty Images

It’s been a long time coming, but finally passengers will have the option of travelling between the UK and the Netherlands direct by rail.

The German operator Deutsche Bahn announced and then cancelled a link between the UK and Dutch capitals five years ago. Since then, Eurostar’s efforts have been plagued by technical and bureaucratic set-backs.

Uptake is likely to be small, at least at first. Whilst Brits are familiar with international train travel, the Eurostar brand will be much newer to those on the other end of the line.

There will be only two trains a day from the UK. That compares to 70 direct flights daily from London to Amsterdam, for example.

Although Eurostar cannot compete on flexibility of travel, the train company is putting itself in direct competition with the airlines on price. Fares start at £35 for a one-way ticket.

There will be those, particularly business travellers, who would prefer access to power sockets, free wifi and room to work on a train over the retail extravaganza of modern airports.

Game-changing will be de-wrinkling the passport controls process on the return leg. Hassle-free, connected travel is a luxury many will be prepared to pay handsomely for.

‘Historic milestone’

The rail company will be running two services a day, departing at 08:31 and 17:31 respectively, with one-way fares starting at £35.

Eurostar also says the new service will cut the journey time between London and Brussels by 17 minutes to one hour and 48 minutes.

“The launch of the London to Amsterdam service marks a historic milestone in the expansion of international high-speed rail travel, revolutionising the connection between these important destinations,” the company said.

It says more than four million passengers travel between London and Amsterdam by air each year and therefore the market is the same size as it was when the London-Paris services launched in 1994.

It points out that since then, the market for travel between London and Paris has more than doubled.

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