The world inhabited by the Daily Mail is filled with contradictions: we should be wary of all those dastardly foreigners, but readers are then tempted with holidays in the Mediterranean, Alpine skiing, and an increasing number of European city breaks. This means the Mail has always been keen on plugging Eurostar. And that plugging has just shown its readers the problems caused when the Mail gets its way with Governments.
Eurostar trains at St Pancras International
Last month, the Mail proclaimed “How direct train travel from London to Amsterdam is now just months away with Eurostar expected to declare a price war on low-cost airlines … Direct train travel from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal from spring … Two trains a day expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels & Rotterdam … Direct route will cut current journey time of up to five hours to under four hours”.
However, while the article optimistically predicted “a cut to under four hours will bring a strong challenge to flying”, someone at the Mail did not pause to decode the Eurostar spokesman’s confirmation that “The new service will run from London to Amsterdam, and will stop in Brussels and Rotterdam along the way”. Because there is a catch.
News of that catch was broken gently by the BBC: “Channel Tunnel train operator Eurostar is launching direct services between London and Amsterdam … Trains will run twice daily from 4 April, with the journey from St Pancras to Amsterdam taking three hours and 41 minutes … But for an initial period, the Eurostar service will only run direct one-way, from London to the Dutch city”. Er, what? How do punters get back, then?
Here is where the other side of the Mail coin flips up: “Passengers travelling from Amsterdam to London will have to change at Brussels to clear passport controls”. What this means has been explained in the Eurostar timetable from The Man In Seat 61.
“When Dutch & Belgian governments formally approve passport control taking place at Amsterdam & Rotterdam stations from a date in 2019 yet to be announced, Eurostar will open check-in facilities and you'll be able to board in Amsterdam or Rotterdam and travel direct to London as per the greyed-out timings above … Until then, the inwards Eurostars are unable to carry direct Amsterdam to London passengers. In the Amsterdam or Rotterdam to London direction you should use a Thalys high-speed train from Amsterdam or Rotterdam to Brussels, then a Eurostar from Brussels to London”.
Until some time in 2019, Eurostar can’t even take you from Amsterdam to Brussels and then dump punters on the platform to go through the passport and security rigmarole, before getting back on the train to London. No, they will have to run back from Amsterdam to Brussels to pick them up - all because of the UK’s security paranoia. Even after that’s all sorted, the return leg will take longer, because of security checks in Brussels.
And who has been in the vanguard of preventing successive British Governments from signing on to the Schengen area, instead forcing travellers between the UK and mainland Europe to endure more queuing and passport checks? Why, the Daily Mail, of course!
So now all those Mail readers will be able to marvel at the benefit of having their paper influence the way they travel on Eurostar. Or, as in this case, they don’t.