Eurostar unveils major Ebbsfleet hub

Eurostar has planted Ebbsfleet International on the map, unveiling a major new station that will offer access to continental Europe for more than 10 million potential travellers across southern England.Ebbsfleet International station is strategically located near Dartford in Kent, close to Junction 2 of the M25 and the M20, M2 and A2 routes and Bluewater shopping centre.  It lies on the second section of the new high-speed rail link that runs from just south of Gravesend to London St Pancras, and will open in autumn 2007.

Ebbsfleet International will offer millions of potential travellers a seamless alternative to London’s congested airports, avoiding the need for travel into central London to make high-speed rail journeys to France, Belgium and beyond. Indeed, Ebbsfleet is more quickly accessible from the M25 than any of London’s airports including Heathrow.

The new station near Dartford will open when Eurostar switches its London operations from Waterloo to St Pancras International in autumn 2007 and begins operating on the second section of the new high-speed link.  Ebbsfleet International will offer 9,000 parking spaces and connections to domestic public transport services, and will be used by more than one million travellers a year.

The station consists of a modern steel and glass building with facilities for fast check-in and train boarding.  Trains will stop at six platforms - two for international and four for domestic services.  Ebbsfleet International is expected to be a major catalyst for regeneration in the East Thames Corridor, and its importance will further increase when domestic high-speed rail services between London and Kent begin in 2009.

Nearly half of Eurostar services will call at Ebbsfleet International, with timings to suit both business and leisure travellers.  Together with the retention of key services at Ashford International, the new station will mean even more Eurostar services for Kent, strengthening the county’s position at the crossroads between the UK and the continent.

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p>Journey times to the continent will be even quicker than those from St Pancras International.

The launch of services on the completed UK high-speed line means Eurostar must optimise its stopping patterns in order to deliver a timetable that satisfies the core demand for fast non-stop journeys between London, Paris and Brussels, and meets the needs of intermediate stations along the route.

Detailed research shows that Ebbsfleet International will become the most popular intermediate stop from autumn 2007.  Ashford International will retain key services reflecting the expected level of demand.  The start date for services at Stratford International will depend on the development of good road and public transport access to the station, which is currently isolated in the midst of the massive, planned construction site for Stratford City and London Olympic Park.

Eurostar has also today announced that it is safeguarding 300 long-term jobs in Ashford, by renewing the lease on the building that houses the staff of its award-winning UK contact centre.

Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “Ebbsfleet International will provide a very exciting new gateway to Eurostar services to the continent.  Close to Junction 2 of the M25, it will offer a real alternative to London’s increasingly crowded airports with journey times to Paris and Brussels which are directly comparable to airport to airport flight times.

“We also believe it will be an attractive option for a number of our current users at Waterloo International, who currently drive to their local station to come to London but may prefer to stay in their car a little longer and drive to Ebbsfleet International and benefit from even faster journeys from there.

“With the retention of key services at Ashford International, Kent as a whole will also benefit from the considerable increase in the number of Eurostar trains serving the county.

Eurostar expects to announce the exact date for the launch of services from St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International later this year.  The switch of the London terminal from Waterloo International will be the most significant event since the business began operations in 1994.

The first section of the high-speed line, running between the Channel Tunnel and Fawkham Junction near Gravesend in north Kent, opened in September 2003 and reduced journey times by 20 minutes. The opening of the second section will reduce journeys between London, Paris and Brussels by a further 20 minutes.

Eurostar has also been nominated this year for a

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World Travel Award as World’s Leading Rail Service.
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