Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service which links the UK with the continent, has commissioned independent research which shows a shift in perception as high speed rail is now seen as a serious option for short haul travel in Europe. Over 84% of those surveyed said that they would definitely or probably choose high speed rail over air when they are next planning a trip to the continent.
Since flights were grounded last Thursday Eurostar has put on 63 additional trains and has carried around 400,000 passengers. By Sunday (25 April) it will have carried 500,000 passengers in total over the disruption period – 100,000 more people that were booked to travel. Passengers have been connecting with Eurostar services from South of France, Holland, Germany and Switzerland.
Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar’s Chief Executive, said: “During the disruption we have transported half a million people to and from the continent. There is no doubt that the airline disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano has made people reassess their travel options with eight out of ten now saying they might well opt for rail over plane. With a journey time of around four hours from London to Amsterdam or Cologne and five hours to Frankfurt, high speed rail is seen as a serious alternative to flying short haul.”
The survey reinforced the attractions of city centre to city centre rail journeys with nearly half the respondents (43%) saying that they would be happy to travel by train for up to 6 hours. Over 80% of those surveyed would choose to go to France by rail and over half said they would opt for the train when going to Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
The problems over the last week have clearly demonstrated the crucial role that Eurostar and high speed rail play in transporting thousands of people from all over Europe.
Making connecting travel seamless
To make travel to additional destinations smoother and easier, Eurostar is running a service with SNCF whereby Eurostar passengers can travel between the UK and Provence, connecting through Lille, in specially reserved coaches on connecting TGVs. Through-tickets can be booked quickly and easily on www.eurostar.com
To ensure that their journey is as seamless as possible, on arrival at Lille, passengers are given advice and directions for their onward travel. Tickets for travel to Lyon and Marseille on the connecting services are on sale now for travel from 1 June and prices start from £109 return to Lyon and £119 return to Marseille. Over the coming months, Eurostar will seek feedback from passengers, and if the service proves popular, will look to extend it to other destinations.