Eurostar runs inaugural train from Brussels to ST Pancras International in 1 hour 43 minutes

20 Sep 2007

--London and Brussels join the 'two hour club'
--Connections between St Pancras and domestic train operators
bring Eurostar in reach of regional towns and cities
--Shorter journeys and greener trains reduce reasons to fly
Eurostar, the high-speed train operator that links the UK with the Continent, has today (Thursday 20 September) run the first train from Brussels into St Pancras International, Eurostar's new terminal in the heart of London.
The high-speed train took just 1 hour and 43 minutes to cover the 232 mile (373 km) distance, travelling at 186mph (300km/h) on the UK's new high-speed line, High Speed 1, and setting a new record for the journey between the Belgian and British capitals.
From 14 November, the scheduled non-stop time between St Pancras International and Brussels will be 1 hour and 51 minutes, cutting at least 20 minutes off the current journey time from Waterloo.
Today's train was the first from Brussels to run the full length of HS1, the new railway between the Channel tunnel and central London.
The operation of services to and from St Pancras International from 14 November will give travellers from cities north and south of the capital a fresh and competitive alternative to travelling by air.
St Pancras International will offer excellent connections with Eurostar from seven mainline services including Virgin Trains, Midland Mainline, GNER and First Capital Connect. Through fares from some 70 UK cities to Paris, Brussels and stations across Belgium will be available from November. Sample return fares and centre-to-centre journey times include:
Birmingham – Brussels / Paris: from £79 return - journey times 4h25 / 4h45
Manchester – Brussels / Paris: from £84 return - journey times 5h10 / 5h30
York – Brussels / Paris: from £79 return - journey times 4h50 / 5h10
Newcastle – Brussels / Paris: from £82 return - journey times 5h50 / 6h00
Cambridge – Brussels / Paris: from £71 return - journey times 3h40 / 4h00
Eurostar and domestic train operators will also together offer a far greater frequency of connecting services to Brussels and Paris compared with regional airports, providing valuable flexibility for business travellers.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said: "Today's journey puts London and Brussels firmly within the 'two hour club'. Eurostar is quite simply the fastest, most convenient way to travel – avoiding wasted time and money in getting to out-of-town airports, lengthy check-in times, and baggage reclaim delays.
"The connections between domestic rail services and St Pancras International mean that travellers from across Britain will be able to reach Brussels, and cities throughout Belgium and France, in journey times that are competitive with flying, using trains that are more productive for business travellers, more relaxing for leisure travellers, and greener for all."
Eurostar will launch services from St Pancras International on 14 November this year – in 55 days' time - having run the final trains from Waterloo the previous evening (13 November). The new timetable will for the first time enable UK business travellers to reach the centre of Brussels before 9am, and Belgian travellers to reach central London by 8am, ready for a full day's work. Leisure passengers will benefit from later evening departures, allowing them longer for their trips.
High Speed 1 runs for 68 miles (109 km) from the Channel Tunnel to St Pancras International. It passes through Eurostar's new station at Ebbsfleet International in north Kent, just off junction 2 of the M25 and close to Bluewater shopping centre, before approaching St Pancras via tunnels under east London. At 186 mph (300km/h), Eurostar trains travel 50% quicker than even Britain's fastest domestic rail services.
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Notes to Editors:
1. Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking London Waterloo (until 13 November), London St Pancras (from 14 November) Ebbsfleet (from 19 November), Ashford, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.
2. Eurostar will switch its London terminal from Waterloo International and begin services from St Pancras International on 14 November 2007. Journey times on High Speed 1, the UK's first high-speed line, will be London – Paris 2h 15min; London – Brussels 1h 51min; and London - Lille 1h 20min.
3. A new station at Ebbsfleet International, just off junction 2 of the M25 near Dartford crossing and Bluewater shopping centre in north Kent, will open on 19 November. Journey times will be 10 minutes shorter than from St Pancras.
4. Eurostar is a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe's leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel on the fast-expanding, European high-speed rail network.
5. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel operates a vehicle shuttle service and the Channel tunnel itself. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's biggest customer.
6. To book tickets for Eurostar, or to find out more information, go to www.eurostar.com, call 08705 186 186 or contact your travel agent.
For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7922 4494press.office@eurostar.co.uk