Reader question: Is it true that Eurostar does not want to resume services that stop at Calais-Fréthun and Ashford International?
Eurostar has made a decision to focus on its busiest city centre stations after the Covid pandemic led to the number of bookings plummeting.
In 2020, Eurostar bookings dropped by 90% compared to 2019.
When international travel resumed, Eurostar decided against reopening its Kent stations at Ashford, Ebbsfleet or the French stop Calais-Fréthun.
“We can confirm that Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations will stay closed for the remainder of 2022,” a Eurostar spokesperson previously told The Connexion.
“As the business starts its recovery, we need to focus on core destinations where demand is highest. We will review the decision towards the end of .”
No new updates to this decision have as yet been announced.
As for the Calais-Fréthun stop, Eurostar states: “Due to the impact of coronavirus and the subsequent pressure put on our business, we’ve made a decision to focus on our busiest city centre stations. As a result, our trains are currently not stopping at Calais.”
This does not mean that the routes will not reopen in the future, but it is not certain.
The closure of the Kent stations has reportedly been a blow to the area, with the buildings lying almost deserted.
“There has been a lot of money poured into ensuring that Kent has links to the rest of Europe by train and that's not being used at the moment," an unnamed rail industry insider told local media KentOnline.
“It's great that Eurostar is in place, and yes it's all well and good going up to London to come back out again, but let's just hope that the market picks up and that they can feel confident of running some sort of service, even if it's just a handful of trains a day from Ashford and from Ebbsfleet, to link up with the continent."
A spokesperson for Eurostar told KentOnline that the decision to reopen the Kent stations would be “based on general business performance but also looking in particular at how the local market has evolved since Covid”.
Elsewhere, another change made by Eurostar during the Covid pandemic is set to remain in effect. The rail company scrapped the stop at Brussels-Midi on the route between Amsterdam and London to get around inconsistent travel restrictions.
And that change is to remain in effect as it has been found to be simpler for passengers, with the journey time reduced.
It means it is no longer possible to take the Eurostar between Amsterdam or Rotterdam and Brussels.
The route between Brussels and London remains open.