Eurostar and ATOC announce through fares to the continent from 68 towns and cities across britain
Eurostar strikes deals with East Midlands Trains, First Capital Connect, GNER and Virgin Trains – return fares from £67 on sale from 14 November
New fares will further boost the growing number of Eurostar journeys made by travellers living in UK regions
Train companies offer prices, journey times, frequencies and convenience to compete with regional airlines
Eurostar, the international high-speed train operator, and the Association of Train Operating Companies have today (24 October) 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.
Lowest standard class, return fares and fastest journey times include:
Cambridge – Brussels / Paris: £71 return – journey times 3h50 / 4h00Birmingham – Brussels / Paris: £79 – journey times 4h25 / 4h50Manchester – Brussels / Paris: £84 – journey times 5h20 / 5h35Luton – Brussels / Paris: £67 – journey times 3h20 / 3h40Derby – Brussels / Paris: £77 – journey times 4h25 / 4h50Sheffield – Brussels / Paris: £77 – journey times 5h00 / 5h25Peterborough – Brussels / Paris: £77 – journey times 3h40 / 4h00Leeds – Brussels / Paris: £79 – journey times 5h05 / 5h35(For travel to Disneyland Resort Paris, and to any station in Belgium, the lowest fares are the same price as for Brussels / Paris.)
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."
Through tickets will be available to purchase from 14 November 2007, the date of Eurostar's move to St Pancras International.
To make bookings and for timetable information, travellers should contact Eurostar's Contact Centre on 08705 186 186.
Through fares are available up to 90 days in advance, in line with UK train operators' booking horizons.
For GNER-Eurostar travel, tickets can also be booked via GNER telesales on 08457 225 225.
From mid December 2007, it will be possible to purchase through tickets via eurostar.com and participating railway company websites.
Eurostar and UK train operators will extend the range of through fares to more British stations during 2008, as well as extending sales to more websites.
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Notes to Editors:
1. Eurostar is the high-speed train operator that will launch services to and from St Pancras International on Wednesday 14 November. St Pancras is superbly connected with a total of seven UK train operators serving St Pancras, next door King's Cross and nearby Euston, providing connections to towns and cities north and south of London. Eurostar services at Waterloo International will end on 13 November.2. Eurostar journey times on High Speed 1, the UK's first high-speed line, will be: London – Paris 2h 15min; London – Disneyland Resort Paris 2h 35min; London – Brussels 1h 51min; and London – Lille 1h 20min. Eurostar also serves Ebbsfleet International (from 19 November – see below), Ashford International, Calais, Avignon and the French Alps.3. Ebbsfleet International, a new station just off junction 2 of the M25 near Dartford crossing and Bluewater shopping centre in north Kent, will open on 19 November. Journey times to the Continent will be 10 minutes shorter than from St Pancras.4. Independent research commissioned by Eurostar has shown that a Eurostar journey generates ten times less carbon dioxide than flying between London and Paris or Brussels. Eurostar has set a target of reducing its CO2 emissions by a further 25% per passenger journey by 2012.5. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains and competes with airlines; Eurotunnel operates road vehicle shuttle services between Folkestone and Calais and competes with ferries. Eurotunnel also operates the Channel tunnel itself.6. Eurostar is also a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe's leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel across the fast-expanding, European high-speed rail network.7. The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is the official voice for the UK passenger rail industry – representing train companies to the government and other opinion formers on transport policy issues. Britain's train operators are working together to change rail travel for the better. ATOC manages many joint activities for train operators including revenue allocation and settlement, impartial retailing, National Rail Enquiries, Railcard marketing, staff travel arrangements, international products and travel agent licensing. For more information visit www.atoc.org and www.atoc-comms.org
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