Eurostar launches direct Ashford–Brussels link as faster services through channel tunnel restored

19 Jan 2009

-- Ashford - Brussels trains from Monday 23 February-- Faster journey times to the Continent from both Kent stations-- Ebbsfleet – Paris 2h05 and Ebbsfleet – Brussels 1h46
Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service that links the UK and mainland Europe, announced today (19 January) that it will introduce a direct service between Ashford International and Brussels from Monday 23 February 2009.
The new service will begin on the same day that Eurostar restores faster and more frequent services through the Channel Tunnel, with up to 19 trains per day between London and Paris, and up to 10 per day between London and Brussels.
The return to a full Eurostar service follows the announcement by Eurotunnel, the owner and operator of the Channel Tunnel, that repairs to the tunnel section known as "Interval-6" will be completed by 10 February. This allows Eurostar to plan and implement the switchover from its current reduced timetable.
Between 10 and 22 February, Eurostar will continue to operate its existing departure times, with some trains likely to arrive earlier than currently timetabled.
From 23 February, Eurostar will return to a normal timetable with all services operating at full speed, and fastest non-stop journey times of London – Paris 2h15, London – Brussels 1h51 and London – Lille 1h20.
Eurotunnel's impressive progress in repairing the tunnel means the introduction of the Ashford - Brussels will come earlier than recently expected. The service was originally due to have been launched in December, but was delayed because of the tunnel incident.
With the return to full tunnel capacity, the optimum pattern of Eurostar departure times will be restored, removing any gaps in the current timetable which have been caused by the reduced tunnel capacity.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar said, "We're delighted that the growth in passengers on the London – Brussels route since the opening of High Speed 1 has enabled us to reintroduce a direct link between Ashford International and Brussels, and we very much hope it will prove attractive to travellers.
"We're also pleased that business travellers across the south east who value the convenience of Ebbsfleet International, just off the M25, will be able to enjoy high-speed journey times of roundly two hours or less to the centres of Paris and Brussels.
"The completion of tunnel repairs will be welcome news for our travellers, speeding up business trips and making leisure breaks to the Continent even more attractive."
Ashford International – Brussels services will be timetabled as below, enabling business travellers to arrive before 09.00 (all times are local). Weekly commuters will also be able to travel to Brussels on a Sunday evening.
The launch of Southeastern's high-speed commuter services on High Speed 1 in December 2009 will further enable Eurostar to offer a big increase in connecting services between Ashford International and Brussels. There will be a total of seven inbound and outbound services connecting via Ebbsfleet International.
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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. Eurostar has two intermediate stations in Kent, serving south east England:
- Ebbsfleet International close to junction 2 of the M25 and Bluewater shopping centre, with frequent services to Brussels and Paris, and with car parking, taxi and Avis car hire facilities.- Ashford International, with daily services to Paris, Disneyland Resort Paris, Brussels (from 23 February) and Lille, and seasonal trains to the French Alps and Avignon.
Eurostar ticket holders can make connecting journeys to either Kent station for free from anywhere on the Southeastern trains network. They will also be able to connect with Southeastern's high-speed domestic services from December 2009.
3. Under its Tread Lightly environmental plan, Eurostar has set a target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012. Because emissions cannot yet be eliminated, Eurostar is also the world's first train operator to make all journeys carbon neutral, at no extra cost to travellers. Research commissioned by Eurostar has shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Paris/Brussels generates one-tenth of the carbon dioxide of an equivalent flight.
4. Eurostar and Friends of the Earth are working together in the UK on Eurostar's Tread Lightly initiative and The Big Ask, Friends of the Earth's climate campaign. To find out more about Friends of the Earth visit www.friendsoftheearth.co.uk.
5. 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.
6. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel operates vehicle shuttle services and the Channel Tunnel itself. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's biggest customer.
7. To book tickets or for more travel information, please visit www.eurostar.com or call 08705 186 186.
For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7843 5500press.office@eurostar.co.uk