04 September 2007

Eurostar Record

Today saw yet another momentous day in the UK's Rail Calendar, spanning the best part of a century, as a new record time for travel between Paris and London was made: 2 hours 3 minutes and 39 seconds.

In its inaugral journey between the two European cities, the train made its first official journey along the new high-speed line within England, between Dover and London. Carrying journalists and VIPs the train omitted its current UK terminal, Waterloo, in favour of the St. Pancras.

This section of route won't officially open until 14 November, but the 68 mile high-speed section of line within England is the main factor in a significantly reduced end-to-end journey time. Alterations to King's Cross and St. Pancras railway stations, including new sections of the Underground that had to be built, along with associated infrastructure, plus the line itself, has cost the taxpayer £5.8 billion. Is it money well spent?

Certainly the current and intial terminal at Waterloo is inconvenient for passengers travelling to London from elsewhere in the country, noteably the north, who have to change trains in London as well as traverse the city on the Underground; a new terminal at St. Pancras, which is barely 50 paces from King's Cross, will see cities such as Sheffield, Derby, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh have a seamless connection within the Capital.

Eurostar tickets between London-Paris start from £59 return, and if I can get a ticket at that price I'll certainly sample the service before Christmas. With speeds of 202mph within France and 195mph within England a norm when fully operational the cost will pail into insignificance for many when compared with the equivalent time in a car using either the EuroTunnel car train of ferry.