Thursday, March 22, 2007

EuroStar - a civilised way of getting from London to Brussels

Getting on board on Monday was a bit fraught. The travel company hadn’t bothered to pass on my credit card details to Eurostar, so the booking had expired and I didn’t have a seat. Ten minutes on hold to the call centre, a five minute wait for a new booking to be processed, disappointment and another call to the agent when they didn’t pay for the new booking, and eventually I collected my ticket from the Waterloo ticket office.

After a few false starts with 30-second-long tunnels and popping ears, there was an announcement asking us to put our watches forward to Brussels time (an hour ahead) and then we plunged into the side of a hill and into darkness.

Nineteen and a half minutes later, we surfaced to green grass and a slightly different style of electricity pylon - a sure sign we had popped up in France and hadn’t doubled back under the channel and returned to the UK.

It’s all very civilised. A bit more comfortable than the Belfast Dublin Enterprise, but nothing special. No power outlets in cattle class! And the journey from London to Brussels Midi took only twenty minutes longer than the time it takes to commute the 100 miles down to Dublin. But at 8 times the price for a flexible return to Dublin.

If only EuroStar could announce to passengers which carriage sells cups of tea! There are way too many carriages to expore.

8 comments:

Nick said...

I follow with interest your skirmishes with Eurostar, baggage reclaim, hotel air conditioning, Cheltenham racegoers etc, but there's something missing here. Call me a nosy parker, but I'd like to know more about the actual experience of travelling around, which you obviously do a lot of. Do you enjoy all the travelling? Do you meet any interesting people? Are you longing to get home again? And why all the travelling anyway - is it part of the job? (nickhereandnow)

Anonymous said...

Yeah Alan (aka international man of mystery) - what exactly is it that takes you on all these trips?

Brabazon said...

Can you use mobiles on the Eurostar? I got it once back in the days before I had one ('96), and remember seeing a payphone onboard. I was so tempted to try ringing home just to see if it worked and to say 'I'm calling you from the bowels of the earth' or something...

Nick said...

There are some clues in Alan's previous blogs - his work environment 'revels in a sea of gray' and he has a company car. How about a competition to guess the job? Civil servant? Drug smuggler? Business executive? Life coach? Is there a prize for the correct answer? Moving on, yes I'm all in favour of M&S and Sainsbury's going green - but how does that square with the high consumption ethic of six-packs, buy one get one free etc?

Brabazon said...

Going by the location of some of the photos AiB has posted, I'm guessing he works in the higher echelons of BT in Belfast.

If I'm right do I win £5? :)

DaithĂ­ said...

There are power outlets in some parts of economy-Eurostar; I think it is coaches 5 and 17. There is one outlet for each pair of seats, and the rows alternate between UK and European sockets. Hope this helps.

Alan in Belfast said...

Aha ... a quick search for the Eurostar customer care question database for "power" turns up the full answer ...

On our refurbished trains we have both U.K and European power points located in standard class in coaches 5 and 14 and in Leisure select and Business Premier in coaches 7, and 12.

jamesbrownontheroad said...

There are indeed some power points, but not many. The Eurostar trains are derived from a type of TGV, which I've found to be surprisingly light on on-board perks. On most TGVs you'll find no power points, no wireless internet, and no at-seat service in first class or complimentary beverages. The seats aren't even that comfortable. The principle being that they can go so f---ing fast you won't be on board long enough to miss those luxuries. British rail travellers should be grateful that our slower intercity trains have already have many of these perks.

Oh, and Alan, there are in fact two café car on a Eurostar, because the train is so big. Look for the arrow next to cocktail glass icon above the door at one end of your car and stike out in that direction :)