Ebbsfleet official opening

29 Jan 2008

- Olympic double gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes officially opens Eurostar's Ebbsfleet International station
- Shortlist of artists for £2M Ebbsfleet Landmark launches campaign to put new gateway to Europe on the map
- Business leaders from Essex, Surrey, Sussex and Kent discover greener, faster route to the Continent
Dame Kelly Holmes, winner of two Olympic gold medals, today (29 January) officially opened Ebbsfleet International – heralding the new Eurostar station just off the M25 as the gateway from southern and eastern England to mainland Europe.
The double Olympic champion - the fastest woman over 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Olympic Games – said Ebbsfleet International was now the natural starting point for a high-speed sprint to the Continent for millions of people living across Essex, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
Eurostar and its partners London & Continental Railways and Land Securities today also announced the shortlist of internationally-known artists who are competing to design the £2M Ebbsfleet Landmark, standing more than 40 metres high and putting Ebbsfleet International station firmly on the map, along with the surrounding Ebbsfleet Valley development area. The five shortlisted artists are Daniel Buren, Richard Deacon, Christopher Le Brun, Mark Wallinger and Rachel Whiteread.
In a move symbolising Ebbsfleet International as a convenient new alternative to London's airports, more than 50 business leaders from Essex, Surrey, Sussex and Kent boarded a Eurostar train to Paris for a high-speed 'green teach-in' to discover how switching from plane to train can help their companies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and to experience the time-saving 186 mph speed of Eurostar services.
On board were environmental advisers from Eurostar's official partner, environmental charity Friends of the Earth, to provide advice to businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprints.
Eurostar will this week (Friday, 1 February) launch a major marketing campaign to promote the convenience of Ebbsfleet International for travellers across southern and eastern England - with TV, online and outdoor advertisements.
For example, Eurostar estimates that a centre-to-centre journey from Reigate or Chelmsford via Ebbsfleet International to Paris takes just over four hours, significantly shorter than flying via Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle airports.
Eurostar travellers enjoy a business class check-in time of just 10 minutes and up to two hours' working time on board, and their journeys generate one-tenth of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by an equivalent flight.
Dame Kelly said: "I am delighted to officially open Ebbsfleet International station as the new gateway from the Home Counties to Europe. If you want to be world-class in sport or in business you have to seek out and seize opportunities to get ahead, and Ebbsfleet International is now the fastest and greenest way to reach the opportunities of Europe, ahead of the competition."
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: "Ebbsfleet International is becoming the faster, greener choice for smart-thinking business travellers across southern and eastern England. Its landmark will become a familiar sight beside our road and rail networks, bringing pride to the local community and future residents. The station will also be a gateway to the 2012 Olympics for visitors coming from mainland Europe by high-speed rail."
Ebbsfleet International is well-signed from junction 2 of the M25 and lies close to Bluewater shopping centre, just off London's orbital motorway. Eurostar offers seven services a day to Paris and five a day to Brussels, with non-stop journey times of 2 hr 05 min and 1 hr 41 min respectively.
The station has 2,500 parking spaces, all within five minutes' walk of the station and with a daily charge of £11.50, less than at any of London's main airports. Business Premier travellers enjoy a 10 minute check-in time and full business lounge facilities.
Rodger Broad, IoD South Region Director, said: "Reliable and efficient transport links to Europe are essential to maintain a healthy and dynamic UK economy. At the same time, UK businesses are actively seeking opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of their travel. The new station at Ebbsfleet International gives many business travellers from across southern England additional options for high-speed, low-carbon travel to key business locations such as Paris and Brussels."
- 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. Ebbsfleet International is a few minutes' drive from junction 2 of the M25 and has 2,500 parking spaces, taxi and Avis car hire facilities. Eurostar travellers using public transport enjoy free travel on connecting Southeastern train services and Fastrack buses.
3. Travellers in southern England also have the choice of Ashford International station, which provides three services a day to Paris, a daily service to Disneyland Resort Paris and seasonal weekly services to the French Alps and Avignon.
4. Independent research has shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Paris / Brussels generates one-tenth of the carbon dioxide produced by an equivalent flight. Under its 'Tread Lightly' initiative, Eurostar has set a target of further reducing its CO2 emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012. Eurostar is the world's first train operator to make all journeys carbon neutral.
5. Eurostar and Friends of the Earth are official partners in Britain, and collaborate on the development of Eurostar's 'Tread Lightly' initiative, and Friends of the Earth's 'The Big Ask' campaign.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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