Eurostar to strenghten links between Ashford and Brussels

31 Jul 2008

Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train operator connecting the UK and mainland Europe, has today announced plans for improved links between Ashford International and Brussels-Midi.
A daily direct service between Ashford International and Brussels is to be introduced from 14 December 2008, the date of the international winter timetable change.
The decision to offer a direct service comes after a review of traveller demand, following the launch of Eurostar operations on High Speed 1 and at Ebbsfleet International in November last year.
Because traveller numbers on the London-Brussels route have increased by 30% since the introduction of the High Speed 1 timetable, significantly more than expected, Eurostar is to introduce an 11th weekday service from December. This creates the opportunity to re-introduce a direct Ashford-Brussels service, which the review suggests has the potential to become commercially viable.
In addition to direct services, later connecting services will continue to be available via Lille, departing Ashford International at 10.28 and leaving Brussels at 18.59. From December 2009 the launch of Southeastern’s high-speed commuter services on High Speed 1 will enable Eurostar to offer a big increase in connecting services between Ashford International and Brussels. There will be a total of six inbound and outbound services connecting via Ebbsfleet International. Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “I am delighted at the big increase in travellers on our London-Brussels route. Although we think the direct Ashford-Brussels service will be loss-making initially, we are prepared to take a risk and see if it is possible to build up sufficient demand to make it commercially viable. There have been calls for a direct service between Ashford and Brussels – now we hope travellers will show they value it and will use it.” The review has also shown that demand for travel between Ashford and Paris is encouraging, and slightly above expectations. The current level of service of three services a day each way will remain unchanged. ***ENDS*** Notes to Editors: 1. Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps. 2. From December, Ashford International will offer three services a day to Paris, a direct and a connecting service to Brussels, a daily train to Disneyland Resort Paris, and seasonal weekly services to the French Alps and Avignon. The station has ample parking and connects with domestic rail services. 3. Ebbsfleet International offers seven trains a day to Paris and five a day to Brussels. It is a few minutes’ drive from junction 2 of the M25 in north Kent, close to Bluewater shopping centre and the Dartford crossing. It has ample parking, taxis and car hire, and connects with local rail stations via Fastrack buses. 4. Eurostar travellers using both Kent stations benefit from free travel on connecting Southeastern trains and Fastrack buses. From December 2009, Southeastern’s new high-speed domestic services will connect with Eurostar at Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and St Pancras International. 5. Eurostar is proud to be the world’s first train operator to make all journeys carbon neutral, at no extra cost to travellers. 6. Independent research has shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Brussels / Paris generates one-tenth of the carbon dioxide produced by an equivalent flight. Under its Tread Lightly environmental initiative, Eurostar has set a target of further reducing CO2 emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012. 7. 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. 8. 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. 9. 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 7843 5500press.office@eurostar.co.ukFor images please go to www.eurostarimagery.co.uk and register.