THE FIRST direct Eurostar in commercial service will run from Amsterdam to London on 30 April. Through services from Rotterdam will begin slightly later, on 18 May.
A media preview of the service took place on 4 February. Direct services from London have operated since April 2018, but the return has been delayed awaiting agreement over the carrying out of security checks before boarding in the Netherlands. Tickets for the new services went on sale on 11 February.
Initially there will be two return services, leaving Amsterdam at 07.48 (not Sunday) and 18.48 (not Saturday), taking just over four hours for the journey to St Pancras. This includes a 30-minute stop in Brussels where intra-Schengen passengers will leave the train before those travelling from Brussels to London will join. There are ambitions to add a third and then a fourth direct return service, which require additional resourcing from Dutch border controls. Three outward direct services operate from London to Amsterdam, leaving St Pancras at 07.16, 11.04 and 17.16.
Eurostar CEO Mike Cooper told Modern Railways the operator already carries around 12% of London to Amsterdam traffic, even with the need to change trains in Brussels on the return journey. While he said he did not expect Eurostar’s share to reach the 75% it holds for the London to Paris market, he expects demand to grow significantly with the advent of the direct return service.
Mr Cooper also reported good progress with the merger between Eurostar and Thalys to create a new company called Greenspeed. He explained this would take place in three phases, first finalising the plan as to what the company will look like, then consulting with works councils and trade unions before referring the merger to competition authorities in Brussels. These stages are expected to be completed around the turn of the year.