THE first train to carry through passengers from London to Amsterdam arrived in the Dutch capital almost precisely on time, after making a 3h41m journey from St Pancras International.
Eurostar provided the journey for invited guests to mark the opening of bookings for the new service, which begins on 4 April. There will then be daily departures from London at 08.31 and 17.31, calling at Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
Passengers in the reverse direction will have a greater choice of departures because for now they will have to change at Brussels, where UK passport checks and security screening will take place for the final leg of journeys to London.
Talks between the Dutch and British governments are continuing over the provision of similar international check points at Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal, which should be open by the end of next year.
Passengers between London and Brussels will also gain a shorter journey time of 1h48m, or 17min less than now, because Amsterdam-bound Eurostars will not be calling at Lille.
All Amsterdam services are being worked by Eurostar Siemens e320 sets, which were designed to operate beyond Britain, France and Belgium. The original Eurostars, built by Alstom and based on French TGVs, have never been able to provide services north of Brussels because they were not equipped for the Dutch traction current of 1,500V nor local signalling systems in the Netherlands. Eurostars from London will normally use the 25kV Dutch high speed line but must also run on the domestic network in the Rotterdam area and when approaching Amsterdam.
Eurostar’s outgoing chief executive Nicholas Petrovic said: “Todayˆs service heralds an exciting new chapter in the expansion of high speed rail … strengthening trading and tourism links.”
The service has taken some time to get going, partly because it had to wait for the arrival of enough e320s. Eurostar then decided to postpone the launch until Easter this year, because tourist traffic will make a major contribution to revenue on the route.