Business and leisure travellers alike will welcome the news that Eurostar has announced concrete plans to launch the first direct rail service from the UK to Amsterdam.
The route will be in use from 16 December 2016, with the journey taking around four hours and expected to cost in the region of £99 return.
Existing plans entail two trains per day leaving from London St Pancras and calling at Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport before pulling into Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.
The cross-Channel rail operator already offers a service to Amsterdam, but passengers departing from the UK currently have to change at Brussels.
The direct service will reduce travel time by around an hour, with the new route taking four as opposed to five hours.
After reaching an agreement with Dutch rail authorities, confirmation was announced on Friday (27 September).
Previous plans overturned
The news came as something of a surprise, as it followed announcements that Eurostar would be using its new and advanced Siemens-built trains to enhance existing services from 2015, rather than forging new links into mainland Europe.
The public got their first glimpse of the new e320 trains in 2010. With 900 seats apiece, these highly sophisticated trains are specially designed with signalling systems and power supply across a range of European countries in mind.
Despite calls from leisure and corporate travellers for Eurostar to expand its services to Holland, Switzerland and Germany, the rail operator initially opted to shelve the idea, with global head of sales, Darren Williams, saying the new trains would instead provide additional seating between London, Brussels and Paris.
However, this decision has seemingly been overturned. Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said: “We have long been ambitious for expansion to new destinations so today’s announcement marks a major advance in our growth plans.”
Train vs. plane
More than three million passengers travel by air between London and short haul destination Amsterdam, making it one of Europe’s most popular routes.
However, Eurostar executives insist that the new service will rival low-cost airlines, with fares expected to be around £99 return, which is the current price for the non-direct journey from London St Pancras to Amsterdam.
While travelling by air is the most conventional way for UK residents to reach Amsterdam, from 2016 could the Eurostar start emerging as the most popular choice?
Lucy Drake, senior press officer with Eurostar, said the rail route will be a “very attractive alternative” to low-cost airlines, especially as the train takes passengers right into the heart of the city rather than dropping them off at an airport some distance away from the centre.
One disadvantage to note is that while the train journey takes four hours, travelling by plane takes just 45 minutes – minus check-in queues and waiting for luggage.
Business destinations: Amsterdam
Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said: “Our point-to-point service will greatly enhance the links between the UK and the near continent, revolutionising travel between these important financial and tourist hubs.”
As an easily accessible destination with growing industries, Amsterdam has become a popular destination among corporate travellers to meet and do business. The city also has plenty to offer in terms of cultural attractions such as world-class museums and historic buildings.
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