Eurostar and the Association of Train Operating Companies have announced the introduction of through rail fares to mainland Europe from 68 towns and cities across Britain.Eurostar has struck deals with East Midlands Trains, First Capital Connect, GNER and Virgin Trains to sell return fares to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Disneyland Resort Paris, 75 connecting destinations across France and to any station in Belgium.
Eurostar has also announced a range of through fares with Chiltern Railways and London Midland, the operator of new West Midlands rail franchise.
Tickets will go on sale from Wednesday 14 November 2007, the date when Eurostar begins 186 mph services from St Pancras International, which is close to King’s Cross and Euston stations.
The number of Eurostar journeys made by travellers living in the UK regions is already growing rapidly. Eurostar estimates that the number of journeys by people living outside Greater London has increased by 26% so far this year.
In total, it is estimated that the number of journeys by travellers living in the UK regions has increased by some 80% since the opening of the first section of High Speed 1 in September 2003.
Standard class, return leisure fares to Paris, Brussels and Disneyland Resort Paris will start from between £67 and £92, for travel from major stations across Britain such as Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Nottingham.
Travellers will be able to buy tickets at prices that are as attractive as those offered by regional airlines; and with up to 17 connecting rail services a day to Paris and up to 10 a day to Brussels, travellers will have plenty of choice about when they travel.
City centre-to-city centre journey times by train will in many cases match or even beat those of taking the plane. Rail travellers will enjoy the time-saving advantages of bypassing journeys to and from out-of-town airports, half-hour check-in (10 minutes for business travellers) for Eurostar services, and avoiding baggage reclaim because they carry their luggage with them.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said: “Eurostar’s move to St Pancras International and the introduction of through fares will open up rail travel to the Continent for millions of people living to the north of London.
“We are offering competitive prices and journey times, with fast and reliable Eurostar services with trains travelling at 186mph on High Speed 1, the UK’s first high-speed line.
“Rail will provide cost-effective, convenient and comfortable travel to mainland Europe, and all Eurostar journeys will be carbon neutral from 14 November 2007 at no extra cost to travellers.”
David Mapp, Commercial Director of ATOC, said: “The new through fares will make it far easier for people to buy tickets for travel to the Continent. Initially, customers will be able to buy tickets with just one phone call to the Eurostar call centre for journeys from 68 British stations to the many direct and connecting continental destinations served by Eurostar.
“The collaboration between Eurostar and Britain’s train operators is an important step in integrating UK and Continental rail travel and builds on the enormous investment in the new high-speed line and St Pancras International.”