Travellers between the capitals of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands will soon have more reason to consider swapping the plane for the train, with Eurostar launching a direct service between London and Amsterdam from April 30 2020.
Although there will be brief stops at Rotterdam and Brussels, passengers zipping from Amsterdam to London will no longer need to change trains to clear UK passport control in Brussels. That'll be taken care of in Amsterdam before boarding, and passengers can remain on the one train for the entire four-hour journey.
(For Rotterdam passengers, UK passport control facilities will also be made available at the station from May 18 2020 – which, as with Amsterdam, allows for a quick exit upon arrival in London: similar to how Pre-Clearance works for the United States.)
In the reverse direction from London’s St Pancras International station, EU passport control takes place on the ground in London before boarding the train, as with Eurostar’s existing direct services to the likes of Paris and Amsterdam.
Tickets for the new direct service go on sale from February 11 2020, starting at just £35 (A$67) in Standard class, one-way. Eurostar services also offer Standard Premier – offering more legroom and a complimentary meal – and Business Premier, the railway equivalent of business class.
Eurostar will initially offer up to two direct trains each day from Amsterdam to London (once-daily on weekends), and up to three trains per day from London to Amsterdam (twice-daily on weekends).
When the train beats the plane
There's no arguing that any flight is faster than any train ride – in the case of London-Amsterdam, it's 80 minutes versus four hours. But those numbers don't tell the whole story.
Given the need to arrive at the Eurostar station around 45-60 minutes before departure, the total time impost sits at around five hours: however, you begin and end your journey pretty much in the centre of the city.
When flying between London and Amsterdam you'd need to arrive around 90 minutes before departure to complete airport formalities, with maybe 30 minutes upon arrival to collect any baggage and clear passport control.
Add to that the time spent getting from the city to the departing airport, and from the arriving airport into your destination city, and the total travel time for that flight also comes it at close to five hours.
The advantage of the train is that most of that time can be used productively: you can get to work on a laptop as soon as you take your seat, and all the way until the train pulls up at your station. That compares favourably to the airport experience which sees travellers moving from one queue to the next, and even on the flight itself, only being able to use full-sized laptops for a brief moment at cruise before packing them away again.
All Eurostar fares also allow you to bring two pieces of luggage, as well as a handbag or briefcase, so there’s no need to check these in and wait for their return upon arrival, as they remain with you on the train.