Eurostar's Disney trains hit the buffers while Amsterdam route faces suspension
Eurostar has ended its service to Disneyland Paris, while its Amsterdam link faces being suspended for nearly a year.
The final train from London St Pancras to Marne-la-Vallee, a station next to the theme park, departed at 10.34am on Monday as the operator focuses on its core routes to Paris and Brussels.
Meanwhile, Dutch media reported that infrastructure secretary Vivianne Heijnen has warned that no Eurostar trains will be able to run to or from Amsterdam Centraal, the capital’s main station, from June 2024 until as late as May 2025, while it is renovated.
Eurostar’s direct trains to Disneyland Paris have been popular with British families since they began running in 1996.
Passengers travelling on the route in future will be forced to change trains, adding time and complexity to their journeys.
In August last year, when Eurostar announced its decision to end the direct services, the company said: “Whilst we continue to recover financially from the pandemic and monitor developments in the proposed EU Entry Exit (EES) system, we need to focus on our core routes to ensure we can continue to provide the high level of service and experience that our customers rightly expect.
“Passengers can still enjoy high-speed rail travel between London and Disneyland Paris via Paris or Lille.”
EES is expected to involve travellers from non-EU countries such as the UK having their fingerprints scanned and a photograph taken to register them on a database the first time they enter a member state.
There are fears the scheme, which was due to be introduced this year but has been repeatedly delayed, will cause long queues for travellers.
Once it is introduced, UK tourists visiting most EU countries will also be hit by a seven euro (£6) fee under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias).
This must be paid to obtain permission to enter for the following three years.
Extra passport checks due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are already limiting the number of passengers who can be processed at London St Pancras.
Rail expert Mark Smith, founder of Seat61.com, said the end of direct services between London and Disneyland Paris means families face having to “struggle from Paris Nord out to Marne-la-Vallee on the RER (commuter train service)”, adding: “It doesn’t half put you off.”
He went on: “We have this post-Brexit situation where Eurostar are doubling down on their core service because the terminal capacity at St Pancras has been reduced because of the extra border checks.
“And they’re really worried that when the Etias and the biometrics (under the EES system) come in for entry to the EU, it’s going to get even worse.
“Until they’ve tackled that, it’s no longer lots of trains to lots of destinations and low fares.
“It’s ‘we’ll run the trains that we can manage to process through the terminal at St Pancras and we’ll get the maximum yield from those trains’.
“So it’s high fares and an artificially limited train service unfortunately, and it is down to Brexit.”
Eurostar services to and from Amsterdam are to be suspended as the project to expand the size of the international terminal at Centraal station will involve demolishing existing facilities used to conduct passport and security checks.
The operator runs four trains in each direction between London and Amsterdam, with plans to add a fifth service.
The capacity of trains from Amsterdam is limited due to restrictions on how many passengers can be processed.
Mr Smith said: “When you’re trying to build up a major route with massive potential, in the face of very strong airline competition, the last thing you want is for it to have to stop for a year and have to start again.
“Once people go away you have to make a big effort to get them back again.”