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”Enough is enough” – has Eurostar been strangled?

Open letter to the British Transport Minister

Dear Mr Harper,

As we face a Climate Emergency, why is it still so difficult and expensive to use Eurostar-the greenest way to travel to and from Europe?

Eurostar has been continually” strangled” ever since its birth when the first train ran through the Channel Tunnel in November 1994. The responsibility for all this clearly lies with the UK Government. This is mainly due to their ideological obsession of privatising all major infrastructure projects. How has this happened?

1 – The track access charges per kilometer that Eurostar has to pay to the owners of the Channel Tunnel have always been set much higher than the average across Europe.

2 – The need for all passengers to go through airport style security before boarding is probably a complete overkill and not really necessary. This is not done anywhere else in Europe for trains going through longer tunnels on land or tunnels going under the sea.

3 – The track access charges per kilometer that Eurostar has to pay to the owners of HS1 in the UK are again 3- 4 times higher than what they pay the French Railways from Calais to Paris.

4 – The UK Government sold off their 40% shareholding of Eurostar in May 2015. When it came to supporting Eurostar during Covid, the UK Government refused financial support for Eurostar, even though this was provided for UK based airlines.

5 – The UK government’s “Hard Brexit” has made the departure process at London St Pancras less pleasant with long queues all around the station. This has got so bad that St Pancras can now probably only cope with 2 trains each hour departing from the station, which is 30% less than before Brexit. Unless they open Stratford International, we may never be able to have any extra trains running to/from Europe.


At the very least, The UK Government must get the track access charges for HS1 reduced as and when they are set by the Regulator.

At the very least, HS1(the owners of London St Pancras) must draw up and finance a plan to expand the capacity of the station for passengers departing for Europe.

At the very least, introduce “random baggage screening” instead of wasting time by forcing all passengers to have their luggage screened before departure.

And, ideally, convince the UK Government to have a softer Brexit by joining “The European Economic Area”.

Nigel Perkins – Chair European Rail Campaign (UK), which is a part of the Back-on-Track European network.

European Rail Campaign (UK) – The Campaign for Better Rail Links to and from the UK and across Europe (

4 thoughts on “”Enough is enough” – has Eurostar been strangled?”

  1. Good article.
    Agree wholeheartedly on bag screening, do away with it.
    It is a waste of time, and so poorly done, especially on the London side.
    Let’s not leave out the need to expand facilities at Gare du Nord.
    And how about making trains available for boarding sooner? The limited gates and ensuing stampede that follows gate opening is quite a scene and a concern.

    1. I agree that the limitations on Eurostar’s capacity and financial viability are the product of UK Brexit and lack of UK Gov support.
      From my limited experience, problems at London St.Pancras International are overstated. It’s far more civilised than most airport terminals.
      For how much longer will Eurostar be relying on just one narrow escalator from the main concourse at the Gare du Nord to load all standard class passengers ? (I’m not revealing the ‘hack’)

  2. A very serious THANKS to Nigel Perkins, but a question additionally:
    Was there ever made a competition-calculation between both ways to reach the continent over an estimated time of years – especially regarding the CO2-emissions (ship and its GHG versus Tunnel-concrete-material and its specialtrains with electric-Power-connsumtion)
    The result of those Job could give a new kind of view to judge over the “Fehmarn-Belt-Tunnel”.
    All the best for 2023 from

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