Brexit Passport Checks Leads To Fewer Passengers On Eurostar

Brexit Passport Checks Leads To Fewer Passengers On Eurostar

Hundreds of seats are deliberately going unsold on Eurostar trains as the cross-Channel train operator struggles with post-Brexit passport checks.

The company’s Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave said with post-Brexit border checks and current levels of border staff, there were “bottlenecks” in stations.

“We have a main issue in Eurostar terminals because of the new boarding conditions between the UK and EU, because of the impact of Covid, because of staff in the stations.”

Eurostar Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave

Eurostar is currently running 14 services per day between London and Paris, compared with 18 in 2019.

The issues have forced the company to cap ticket sales between the two capital cities to avoid long queues and delays.

How Brexit Affected Eurostar

Since Brexit, border checks at London St Pancras International and the continental European stations have become much more time-consuming. Post-Brexit border controls mean all passengers have to have their passports stamped.

Currently, British passengers travelling to the EU need their passports stamped when they cross the border by EU frontier officials, which has caused delays.

European visitors to the UK are also subject to more stringent checks at UK Border Force posts at the Eurostar stations on the continent. But a lack of border staff to carry out these checks is a problem. 

As a result of queues, Eurostar must decide between delaying trains or reducing the number of tickets on sale.

If the first services of the day don’t leave on time, it can cause unmanageable delays throughout the rest of the day.

“If you delay the first train, then you delay the second, and then it’s a very bad customer experience,”

Eurostar Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave

Seats Left Unsold

The first train of the day between London and Paris has the capacity to carry 900 passengers. Eurostar is having to cap ticket sales at 550, meaning 350 seats are going unsold.

Constrained capacity at Amsterdam Central station means the problem there is even worse. Only around 200 passengers can be processed before departure on services to London.

Passengers are being advised to arrive 90 minutes before their train departs to allow enough time to get through passport control.

No New Eurostar Routes

Cazenave explained that the problems are also preventing the operator from restarting services that were previously suspended.

“As long as we are not able to operate as well as possible from a customer experience standpoint in London and Paris, why should we go to Bourg-Saint-Maurice 10 times a year?”

Eurostar Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave

The company’s main focus, she added, was fixing this major issue before considering what it does in the future for these kinds of destinations.

Ms. Cazenave was speaking at the launch of a new logo for the expanded Eurostar Group, which now includes the high-speed Thalys train operator – linking Paris with Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, and Dortmund.

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