Eurostar has changed the way commuters travel between London and Europe. It offers travelers a speedy way of getting to their destination without the cost of an expensive plane ticket, and remains one of Margaret Thatcher’s legacies. It has definitely revolutionized travel between these destinations.
Sitting on the Eurostar a couple of weeks ago watching the Picardy countryside flickering by, I had a flashback to the days of the old boat train. I used to travel quite a lot between London and Paris in the Eighties…
… The overnight connection was particularly gruesome – you might snatch two or three hours on the slow leg through France before being rudely awakened at the Gare du Nord at about 6am…
… A couple of times, when I was feeling particularly flush, I would fork out another £6 and take the hovercraft instead of the ferry. This shaved about 60 minutes off the eight-hour journey; but it was a fool’s paradise. Any hint of a rough sea and hovering was not possible, so you were downgraded back to the ferry.
The first Eurostar that made the London to Paris trip almost seamless was a day that went down history.
That was impressive. The time it took Trend to get to Paris was reduced by half and was much more comfortable and “glamorous.”
Despite the delays, this was a momentous event for all commuters crossing the Channel between the UK and France.
“I remember the extraordinary feeling that you could now travel from London to Paris, from England to France, without even seeing the sea”
During the last two decades, the service has evolved. Eurostar high-speed trains started running on the French side since November 1994, avoiding slow connections on the French side.
Just recently, Eurostar’s e320 trains have become “fully connected” to the internet world – a quantum leap forward.
This has been a much welcome addition for those passengers who need to remain connected. This was another momentous day for these commuters.
“This week I was among those lucky enough to be given an early glimpse of the slick new e320 Eurostar trains that from next year will begin ferrying passengers at lightning fast speeds to Paris, Brussels, and beyond to the Med.
Splendid looking things they are too (well, they are built by Siemens). Thanks to clever ergonomic designs and streamlining of available space they will be able to carry almost 20 per cent more passengers at higher speeds (up to 200 mph) and in greater comfort (nice new features include slimmer ‘reclining’ seats which don’t impinge on the space of the person behind and a clever seat lengthening device).
Unlike the existing, dated stock, moreover, the new trains will – heaven be praised – be fully wired up for Wi-Fi which will be operational across borders and even when the train is going through the tunnel.
Bridge went on to describe the Wi-Fi feature and the amenities to best enjoy the connection – a fold-down table for the device, handy pouches to hold other stuff like food, an inlet at the back of the seats for smartphone, and sockets to plug the devices.
This sounds like a dream come true for everyone needing to remain connected.
On second thought, you may wonder about what happens to those travelers who want to be “away” from the internet world for a while?
“What about those that don’t particularly want to have to engage with the high speed car chase taking place on the screen of their neighbour? What about those for whom travelling represents the chance to switch off from the busy lives they lead all the rest of the time, and to tune into another, more relaxing, zone…”
There is no denying that Eurostar and its e320 trains is a delight to all commuters who need speed, connectivity and comfort.
It would be bliss, however, if there was also a space for those who just want to sit back, look at the passing scenes outside the train or stare blankly (the scenes would be a blur, anyway) in silence.
Admittedly, satisfying all needs isn’t possible, but it would be good for Eurostar to try.