Eurostar seats deliberately left empty because of lengthy Brexit checks

By Lisa James
24/01/2023
Home » Eurostar seats deliberately left empty because of lengthy Brexit checks

Eurostar is deliberately capping seat sales on trains to and from the UK because the operator is struggling with longer post-Brexit passport controls.

The Independent reports post-Brexit processing times have risen ‘by at least 30% and, as a result of queues, Eurostar is forced to decide between delaying trains or reducing the number of tickets on sale’.

It says Eurostar has revealed that the first wave of morning trains in and out of London from Continental Europe are capped at 550 passengers – leaving 350 seats, or 39% of capacity, empty.

The Independent said: “Since Brexit, border checks at London St Pancras International and the Continental Europe stations have become much more time-consuming.

“As the UK Government requested in the Withdrawal Agreement, British travellers must have their passports stamped by EU frontier officials in both directions.

“European visitors are also subject to more stringent checks at UK Border Force posts at the Eurostar stations on the Continent.”

More seats are filled later in the day, but Eurostar Chief Commercial Officer François Le Doze said: “A great proportion of trains are capped.”

Eurostar has already reduced the number of trains between London and Paris from 18 to 14 per day, while trains leave Amsterdam Central more than three-quarters empty.

“Only 250 of the 900 seats can be sold because of severe limits on the UK Border Force location at the Dutch capital,” the Independent says.

A further 175 passengers can be picked up in Rotterdam, meaning the train leaves the Netherlands less than half full.

New Eurostar Chief Executive Gwendoline Cazenave told the Independent: “We’ve become expert in capping trains.

“The pity is we cannot offer enough seats because of these station bottlenecks.”

Facilities should improve at Amsterdam from 2025, allowing 600 passengers – two-thirds of capacity – to board, the Independent adds.

Ms Cazenave was speaking at the launch of a new logo for the expanded Eurostar Group, which now includes the high-speed Thalys train operator, linking Paris with Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and Dortmund.

At the launch, Ms Cazenave said the new logo ‘sees the return of the iconic star, inspired by Étoile du Nord, the original train service linking Paris, Brussels and the Netherlands and Eurostar’s very first logo’.

However, the logo has received a bit of a battering on social media, with one person tweeting: “What’s the French for ‘it looks awful’?” and another saying: “The current Eurostar logo is so classy and modern. This new one looks cheap and very dated.”

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