At £35 (Rs 3,204) and three hours and 41 minutes, you can now reach the Netherlands capital of Amsterdam from London, with Eurostar flagging off its first such service on Wednesday.
The cross-Channel rail operator, which runs trains between London, Paris and Brussels, begun its first service from St Pancras International station at 8.31 am and reached Amsterdam at 1.18 pm on Wednesday.
The 550 km journey will be completed enroute Brussels (1 hour and 48 minutes) and Rotterdam (3 hours and 1 minute). Eurostar has omitted a stop in Lille to reduce the travel time between London and Brussels.
Although passengers will be able to travel directly to Amsterdam on the onward journey, return trips to London will involve changing trains in Brussels for passport checks and security screening.
Eurostar said this was a ‘temporary measure’ until the countries have an agreement allowing border screening on departure in Amsterdam, as happens in Paris and Brussels.
The company is hopeful that the new train service will wean some business away from the low-cost airlines that have mushroomed in Europe. Eurostar said there were currently more than 4 million flyers between the two cities annually.
“As the Netherlands grows in popularity as a key business and tourism hub, the potential for the new service and the overall market is significant,” Eurostar said in a statement.
However, a fact check reveals that easyJet, a low-cost carrier, operates flights from four London airports to Amsterdam and that too at affordable fares starting from £29.99 (Rs 2,743.71).
Accroding to the Daily Mail, passengers on the first service were given a tote bag featuring an image of a tulip as well as commemorative British and Dutch flags and a stroopwafels.
Eurostar chief executive Mike Cooper called the new train service “historic” and said the move would lead to a spurt in international high-speed rail.
“The departure of our first commercial service to Amsterdam represents a historic milestone for Eurostar and the growth of international high-speed rail,” Cooper was quoted as saying in Daily Mail.