EUROSTAR trains start to run regularly between London and Amsterdam today. The departure of the 08.31 from St Pancras International marks the first extension of Eurostar services to a new country since the original routes to France and Belgium were launched in 1994.
The addition of Rotterdam and Amsterdam to the Eurostar network has been discussed for many years, but has only became technically possible with the arrival of the new Siemens Velaro e320 sets, which are compatible with the Dutch traction current and signalling systems.
From now on there will be two departures a day from London to the Netherlands, calling at Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The return journey must be made for the time being on a Thalys service, with a change to a London-bound Eurostar at Brussels. Eurostar hopes that talks between the Dutch and British governments will result in international boarding areas, complete with passport controls and immigration checks, being made available at Amsterdam and Rotterdam in due course.
Eurostar’s new chief executive Mike Cooper said: “The departure of our first commercial service to Amsterdam represents a historic milestone for Eurostar and the growth of international high speed rail. With the Netherlands becoming increasingly popular as a business and tourism destination, the potential for our new route is significant and we look forward to offering our customers a fast, seamless connection between these key European cities.”
Although international routes have been ‘open access’ since 2010, no competitor has yet challenged Eurostar in London. Deutsche Bahn announced its intention to start running to London after a DB Intercity train staged a ceremonial visit to St Pancras in October 2010, but services from Germany have yet to begin.