High-speed Euro link 'ready in a year'


High-speed Euro link 'ready in a year'
The high-speed passenger rail link connecting London with France and Belgium will open in exactly a year's time, it has been announced.

Channel Tunnel train operator Eurostar has said that its passenger services from St Pancras International will commence on Wednesday November 14th 2007.

Eurostar hopes to cut average journey times to Paris by at least 23 minutes to about two and a quarter hours, while it will take one hour 51 minutes and one hour and 20 minutes to reach Brussels and Lille respectively.

The company is confident that its current base at London Waterloo will continue to operate train services until November 13th next year, with the changeover happening overnight.

High Speed One, which also connects with Ebbsfleet in Kent, arrives 13 years after the Channel Tunnel first opened, with high-speed rail links already in place in both Belgium and France for more than a decade.

But Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, today insisted that the opening would represent the "most significant event" in the company's history.

"It will mark the start of a new era in travel between the UK and mainland Europe, making high-speed rail an even faster, more reliable and less environmentally damaging alternative to flying," he said.

"St Pancras International will be a stunning, newly restored station in the heart of London, with connections fanning out across the country that will make Eurostar accessible to millions of new travellers. We will be competing head on with regional airports, with comparable city centre-to-city centre journey times, much greater frequencies, and highly affordable through fares," Mr Brown added.

The platforms vacated by Eurostar at London Waterloo will be returned to the government in order to be used for domestic commuter train services.

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