Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Expanding horizons

Posted in Commuter, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed by Chairman Pip on 25 February 2010

Their recent problems notwithstanding, there’s no doubt that Eurostar has proven to be a significant success story and, since its launch in 1994, has gained 85% of the market on direct trips from London to Paris, Brussels and Lille. The key element here is direct trips, that do not require a change. Rail passengers can be picky about having to change trains halfway through their journey, and so you find that rail has a tiny fraction of that share for journeys that require a change, which is why there is little rail travel between London and Frankfurt, Cologne or Amsterdam (all of which are potentially within four hours of London). However, the potential entry of both Deutsche Bahn and Trenitalia into the mix as competition, sooner rather than later, is to be welcomed, given that competition is always good to improve service levels (if only Iarnród Éireann would take note). But, something else that has been floated is the idea of a “Trans-Manche Metro”, a local commuter service using the tunnel that would connect the regional stations between Lille and St Pancras – this would almost be an extension of the “TERGV” service that TER Nord-Pas-de-Calais operate, which sees some of its regional services using the LGV Nord, or of Southeastern’s services on High Speed 1. This would have the effect of increasing the number of trains from Ashford to France (which has been affected by the opening of Ebbsfleet International), and also increasing the distance of London’s potential commuter belt to take in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. Of course, this idea has significant obstacles, not the least of which is that the UK has not signed the Schengen Agreement – it because of this that Eurostar’s trains need to be at physically seperate platforms, to allow for immigration and customs checks that Thalys passengers do not need to take. Unless the UK does sign up, or some other means is found to limit the inconvenience of needing to take your passport and making an “international journey” to work every day, then Trans-Manche Metro may be some time in coming; certainly it will be longer than the time Deutsche Bahn needs to get started running from St Pancras.

“The train at St Pancras will be departing for … Germany via Channel Tunnel”
“Veoila and Trenitalia mount rival Eurostar service”
“‘Metro’ trains from Calais to Kent”


3 Responses

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  1. Claire said, on 25 February 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I suppose that, in this day and age, cutting down on immigration and customs checks will be frowned upon.

  2. Chairman Pip said, on 25 February 2010 at 2:39 pm

    You’d think so wouldn’t you…

  3. anti aging pills said, on 25 February 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing! it is good to encourage people to comment, not just reading. The only reason I writing blog rather than diary is because of the feedback.

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