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Amsterdam-London Eurostar to be suspended

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-29 10:01
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Passengers queue to check in for the Eurostar international rail service at St Pancras station in central London, Britain, April 14, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Eurostar services from Amsterdam to London will be suspended for almost six months from June next year due to a major refurbishment at the Netherlands capital's Centraal station.

Outbound services from London to Amsterdam will continue, but the renovation works at the station in the Netherlands mean there will be insufficient space for London-bound passengers to clear security and border formalities.

It means the Eurostar high-speed trains will operate without passengers on the route before picking up London-bound travelers in Brussels, Belgium. Passengers will also not be able to board in Rotterdam.

The outcome is a blow for passengers and officials who made efforts to prevent the interruption, with discussions between Eurostar, the Netherlands government, rail company Nederlandse Spoorwegen, or NS, and infrastructure provider ProRail first starting in the summer, reported The Times newspaper.

The route holds significance in competing with the thriving European airline market, said the operator.

In a statement, NS announced that, despite exhaustive efforts by all parties involved in the renovation project, it was determined to be impossible to continue services from Amsterdam during the period.

NS added: "That is very disappointing because we have worked hard in recent years to make the Eurostar to London an attractive alternative to the plane. It is a particularly difficult puzzle to solve.

"In order to keep the period in which there can be no secured departure from Amsterdam as short as possible, we are doing everything in our power we can to deliver the new Eurostar terminal as quickly as possible."

NS said it now expects that the terminal will be put into use in January 2025.

"The good news is that many more passengers can depart from Amsterdam Centraal station by train via this new terminal," it said. "From 250 passengers per train now to 400 passengers per train as of January 2025, and later that year even 650 passengers per train."

Eurostar said in a statement that the six-month period of disruption is shorter than the previously projected 12 months, which will prove a relief for some passengers.

Eurostar group's chief executive, Gwendoline Cazenave, said: "Eurostar has always aimed to find a solution that would have the least possible impact on customers, the environment, and its business.

"We are pleased that the discussions have shortened the gap in services between Amsterdam and London from 12 to six months, and we continue to work on reducing the inconvenience for passengers, local residents, and the economy of Amsterdam and surrounding areas."

Eurostar, which is majority owned by the French state operator SNCF, has faced increased challenges in processing passengers on its routes because of new, post-Brexit regulations, reported The Guardian newspaper. Earlier this year, the company made the decision to discontinue direct services from London to Disneyland Paris.

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