Eurostar has opened a new £7.5 million, 435 metre viaduct outside Brussels Midi station. The viaduct is the last and final section in the Belgian high-speed line, which runs from the French border, near Lille, through to Brussels.
The viaduct carries two dedicated tracks over 22 other railway lines at the entrance to Brussels Midi and separates Eurostar and other high-speed TGV and Thalys services from the busy domestic train services.
It will mean that Eurostar services will have much faster and easier journeys into and out of the station. The fastest journey on the London-Brussels route is currently 2h15 and this will be reduced to 2h11.
“This was a hugely challenging and complex project. The new viaduct is absolutely key in the further improvement of services between the UK and Belgium, and in the development of Brussels Midi as a European railway hub for onward connections to the Netherlands, Germany and beyond.” Commented Richard Brown, Chief Executive of Eurostar.
In the latest quarter (July to September 2006) Eurostar’s punctuality was 91.4%, already significantly higher than the airlines.
Move to St Pancras International
On 14th November 2007, Eurostar will switch its entire London operation from Waterloo International to St Pancras International with the completion of the UK’s first high-speed line, High Speed 1. This will mean that journey times will be slashed by at least 20 minutes, giving journey times between London and Paris of just two hours 15 minutes and London and Brussels of just 1h 51. Eurostar hopes this move will attract more travellers from the North of Britain.
According to Richard Brown, following the launch of services from St Pancras International next year, the high speed rail network will progressively expand across Europe: “By 2008 journey times between London and cities such as Amsterdam and Cologne will be reduced by 20-30%. These developments make high-speed trains an even faster, more reliable and less environmentally damaging alternative to flying,” he added.
At this important time, Eurostar has been rapidly expanding its distribution scope. Eurostar, which is already a member of new rail alliance, Railteam, has recently signed partnerships with travel comparison site, travelsupermarket, online travel agency, Expedia and tour operator, travelscope. Eurostar recently inked its first GDS deal with Amadeus, to appear on agents booking screens along side short-haul airlines.
In advance of next year’s move to the new St Pancras terminal, Eurostar has selected six agencies to pitch for its £10m advertising account.
TBWA London, Mother, Fallon, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Lowe and digital specialist Glue have been short listed from the 46 agencies that originally applied to pitch for the account. TBWA has held the brief for six years since November 2000. First-stage pitches will take place in January, with a second round scheduled for February.
Eurostar recently created a promotional tie-up with Tom Hanks thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’. This included an online competition dubbed “The Eurostar quest” to find “the world’s best code-cracker”.
This year Eurostar won World’s Leading Rail Service at the World Travel Awards.