The ongoing and unfolding Brexit saga has left many wondering what this means for travel between France and the UK. Here’s my personal experience riding the Eurostar from Paris to London post-Brexit and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been years since Brexit officially occurred and the confusion continues. Throw a pandemic into the mix and you’ve got quite the experience.
Despite Brexit, Eurostar has continued operations as normal post-Brexit, but that hasn’t come easy in light of negotiations and more changes in pricing.
During my experience, the significant lines and long waiting times made me feel like I was riding a train in a pre-air travel era.
The Brexit vote has left many people riding the Eurostar to get to their destination, and because of it, riding the Eurostar is more complicated than ever before.
Don’t get me wrong, the high-speed rail itself is incredibly efficient and blows the Amtrak out of the water. However, when comparing this experience with
We’re taking you on a first-person perspective through what riding the Eurostar looks like post-Brexit.
This article will help you understand how riding the train in Europe works now that Britain has officially left the EU.
I rode the Eurostar chunnel from Paris Gare Du Nod to London St. Pancras International.
Many individuals riding the Eurostar before Brexit may not have had to deal with security screening or filling in customs forms.
Add in the confusing antigen and COVID requirements process of Britain to the fold and you’ve got yourself a long day of traveling.
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It’s like taking train travel in the 1900s (in the worst way)
When riding the Eurostar, they advise you to arrive at the gate at least 2 hours before departure. That’s longer than I normally arrive at the airport for an international flight.
Given we are in a post-Brexit era, your departure gate will be in a completely separate wing as riding within the Schengen zone.
You’ll be isolated to whatever the train station offers once you’ve arrived and passed through security.
I normally don’t mind getting to the train station a bit early to get a lay of the land because I can then take a walk around the block or stop by a cafe to kill some time.
When riding the Eurostar to London, that isn’t possible. Once you’re in, you are in the terminal and can’t leave.
I attempted to use the Eurostar Business Class lounge at Paris Gare Du Nord with The Platinum Card from American Express but was denied since my card is a United States credit card and not a European American Express Platinum card.
Given the circumstances, you may want to consider riding Eurostar business class (as lounge access will be included).
So, that widdled down the options to a Paul and a Rally convenience store.
With all your baggage and limited options, it’s a waiting game and exactly like an airport terminal where you’ll be arm wrestling people for charging outlets and seating.
Come prepared for COVID entry requirements into the United Kingdom
Before you depart for travel into the United Kingdom, you’ll need to complete a Passenger Locator Form which is not suited for mobile usage.
Come prepared by filling this out on a computer or the form in advance.
This is a very detailed and tedious process. If you try to fill this information in at the train station, you’ll be stuck there for an hour trying to fill it out in a highly sub-optimal environment.
Is it better or worse than flying?
After riding the Eurostar post-Brexit, passengers are restricted on what they are allowed to bring on board. Security screenings are more stringent.
Passengers are being stopped more often by officials for random customs checks.
Officials are also looking into the passengers’ luggage more thoroughly than ever before.
Eurostar has even had to find new stations in England that are English-speaking so that people who have never ridden it before can feel less confused at the station when they don’t know what is going on.
What does this mean for tourism in the UK?
Riding the Eurostar post-Brexit is a confusing and frustrating experience for many passengers.
The process of riding the train has become more complicated and time-consuming. Officials are asking more questions and looking into passengers’ luggage more thoroughly.
But riding the Eurostar isn’t the worst thing in the world but it makes me wonder if it’s worth the headache or not.
My home destination is Minneapolis-St. Paul and Delta Airlines no longer offer a direct flight to London Heathrow so this makes it a complicated consideration if traveling to Britain is worth it or not.
Multiple discounts have been released by the company and riding it is cheaper than ever before.
There will always be a way to travel from point A to point B, no matter what difficulties lay in your path.
Whatever happens after Britain’s exit from Europe, riding the Eurostar has become more complicated and less enjoyable.
Thankfully, there are still discounts to be had, and the train is still cheaper than ever.
It can be a more comfortable way to travel than flying, but it is also confusing after Brexit.
So, if you can’t avoid riding the Eurostar post-Brexit, at least take advantage of the discounts and make your ride a little more pleasant.
The Price It Pays for Sustainable Travel
The cost of testing, inspections, and quarantines has removed all wonder at catching a train from London to arrive in Paris two-and-a-half hours later, or Amsterdam in under four hours.
Eurostar passenger numbers have plummeted 95 percent; there are now just two trips per day as opposed to 50 percent previously.
British and French governments have two different opposing approaches to the rail tunnel as the French terminal is majority state-owned.
Eurostar has been consistently struggling financially and meanwhile, breaks have been provided to the airlines.
Eurostar will always be more environmentally friendly relative to flying, especially just a simple flight from London to Paris or vice versa.
Is It Worth It During a Short Trip?
I had to take the train both ways as I was flying back to the states out of Charles De Gaulle airport.
Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to say that leaving from London to Paris was more efficient. It wasn’t.
Actually, it was a bit worse as the lines formed for security very early and nearly everything was closed in the terminal.
So, do not come hungry and consider bringing your own drinks and snacks for the train ride. I’m not a person that needs convenience and luxury by any means.
My impression was always that the Eurostar Channel train makes it incredibly convenient to do business between Paris and London as you could make a trip to either city for a day trip or meeting.
Now, I just don’t see how I could pull a day trip off with a feeling of convenience and that’s one major factor about why train travel in Europe is so amazing.
However, if you are making the journey from Paris to London or vice-versa for an extended stay, I still think the Eurostar high-speed rail is still a great option. You’ll have a few more “hoops” to jump through but the ability to be on foot from the city centers of either city is a great means to travel.
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