EUROSTAR WILL launch direct services between London and Amsterdam on 4 April. However, the return journey will require a change of train at Brussels, where passport controls and security screening will be carried out.

Two direct services will depart St Pancras at 08.31 and 17.31, with a journey time of 3hr 41min to Amsterdam and 3hr 1min to Rotterdam. Tickets were due to go on sale from 20 February, when an inaugural journey was planned, and Eurostar says prices will start from £35 one-way.

However, agreement is yet to be reached between the UK and Dutch Governments on conducting passport checks on departure in the Netherlands. As a result, passengers will be unable to travel through from the Dutch capital to London and will need to alight in Brussels for these checks to take place. While Eurostar’s Class 374s will work back from Amsterdam with a 28-minute break in Brussels, this is insufficient time for these checks to take place, so passengers from these services will need to take a later Eurostar to London. Sources have suggested the return Eurostar workings from Amsterdam will leave at 07.48 and 16.48.

Eurostar says the best return connections allowing sufficient transfer time involve using Thalys services as far as Brussels and changing there to a Eurostar, offering a through journey time from Amsterdam to London of around 4hr 40min. The UK and Dutch governments have committed to reaching agreement on the necessary passport checks by the end of 2019, at which point a direct service will be offered in both directions.

The launch follows a comprehensive programme of testing on the Dutch high-speed route and the building of Eurostar terminals in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Eurostar says it will also offer a 17-minute journey time cut on its Brussels to London route, with a new fastest journey time of 1hr 48min by non-stop services.