Cross-Channel rail operator Eurostar complained on Tuesday that slow post-Brexit passport checks for travelers are forcing it to run some services almost a third empty.
The company said its cross-Channel routes from Paris and Amsterdam to London were being held back by longer passport checks, brought in as part of the Brexit vote.
For example, UK visitors using the Eurostar now have to have their documents stamped when entering and leaving the EU, slowing their passage even with UK border points at European stations. EU citizens, on the other hand, must prove that they follow UK migration rules.
According to Eurostar, the extra time needed to verify all this information, together with the congested queues formed, means the train company cannot offer enough seats.
“We were unable to return to 2019 service levels because crossing the border is too slow,” Cazenave said.
In 2022, passengers returned but the numbers were still lower. The Eurostar cross-Channel service carried 8.3 million passengers.
There are now 14 round trips per day, partially full, between Paris and London. In 2019, there were between 17 and 18 full trips.
Cazenave also added that there were not enough border staff to check passports and that she was concerned about the future introduction of a new digital entry/exit system (EES) for space. Schengen travel plan, which should start this year.
“We used to ask customers to arrive half an hour before the train, now it’s one hour,” she said.
Eurostar merges with Thalys
The Eurostar group now includes the Eurostar service from France and Belgium to London and the Franco-Belgian high-speed train operator Thalysconnecting Cologne, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.
On Tuesday, the group unveiled a new joint logo that will adorn trains on both networks, along with an ambitious plan to reach 30 million passengers a year by 2030.
Eurostar nearly went bankrupt in 2021 and Thalys also sought help from its shareholders.
The new combined group has a debt of 960 million euros, according to Cazenave.
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