Brighter times ahead
Business Traveller UK|May - June 2021
Conditions remain challenging for Europe’s rail operators but new night services and rail-air links will provide welcome momentum
ALEX MCWHIRTER

As I write these words, much uncertainty remains about European rail travel. Although operators continue to run their revised schedules, passenger numbers remain low owing to pandemic restrictions. Still, some positive developments are appearing in mainland Europe.

First, let’s look at the Eurostar situation. In winter, when the high-speed operator was reduced to operating a sparse schedule, the situation was dire and the chief executives of both Eurostar and HS1 – the high-speed link between London and Folkestone – stated that their operations might fail.

Late last year, Eurostar’s schedules were reduced to a single daily service to both Amsterdam and Paris, with no dedicated route to Brussels, which instead became a mere stop on the London-Amsterdam route. Never have I known Eurostar to provide such a limited operation. At the time of writing in mid-April, the core schedule remains exactly the same.

The problem for Eurostar is that, as we went to press, all of its destinations were affected by either lockdowns, quarantine restrictions or the need for PCR tests. In addition, pre-Covid-19 it was taking more and more travellers beyond Brussels and Paris to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Such travel is more difficult, if not impossible, at the time of writing.

As we went to press Eurostar’s destinations were affected by either lockdowns, quarantine or the need for PCR tests.

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