By Don Heimburger
Nearly 22,000 travelers hop aboard a Eurostar train each day, and more than 75 million have traveled the Eurostar routes over the last decade.
That figure represents more rail passengers than all the airline passengers combined on both Eurostar routes out of London.
So what’s new with Eurostar for 2008?
NEW FOR 2008
For one, since November, 2007 Eurostar has moved to a new station, from Waterloo to St. Pancreas, reducing the rail journey between London and Paris by 20 minutes. (I loved Waterloo Station!)
The travel time is now 2 hours and 15 minutes, and between London and Brussels it is only 1 hour and 51 minutes.
Also opened was Great Britian’s first high-speed line (called HS1) which carries the Eurostar exclusively. This allows travelers from London to Paris or Brussels to use the train for a one-day business or leisure trip. Every day the train runs 18 roundtrips between London and Paris and 10 between Brussels.
Eurostar trains feature 18 cars each, with car configurations changed depending on if the train is designated as a Business Premier train or a Leisure Select train. The train also runs to Lille, Eurodisney/Marne La Valle, Avignon (summer only), and Bourg St. Maurice (winter only).
TRAINS SEAT 766
Trains seat 766 persons, with special cars situated between cars 7 and 12, and standard class cars 1-5 and 14-18. There are always two bar cars, 6 and 13.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you will probably want to book your trip through Rail Europe, especially if you want to purchase a Eurail Pass that can include the Eurostar (and you can receive up to a 60% discount). Go to http://www.raileurope.com for the details.
In other European rail news, last summer the new French Railway TGV East train broke the world’s rail speed record, reaching a top speed on the trip of 357 miles per hour! A Rail Europe spokesman said, “This accomplishment is monumental for the SNCF and the rail community, and will have a positive impact on all who wish to travel east from Paris.”
The average speed, however, of the TGV East trains is 200 miles per hour. Each first class seat features its own electric power outlet, and broad seat cushions; first class passengers can book a taxi through the train conductor; and on-board messages are in French, German and English.
As an example of faster speeds on the TGV, here are new travel times posted by Rail Europe for travel between some stations:
Paris-Bellegarde: 3 hours 10 minutes;
Paris-Geneva: 3 hours 45 minutes
Paris-Lausanne: 4 hours;
Paris-Zurich: 6 hours 10 minutes
Brussels-Lyon: 3 hours 40 minutes;
Brussels-Avignon: 5 hours