Direct train travel from London to Amsterdam months away

Direct train travel from London to Amsterdam months away
  • Direct train travel from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal from spring
  • Two trains a day expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels & Rotterdam
  • Direct route will cut current journey time of up to five hours to under four hours
  • Its launch will bring a strong challenge to flying from peak city break season

Mark Duell for MailOnline

It’s one of Europe’s busiest routes by air, with more than three million passengers flying between London and Amsterdam each year.

But our travel habits between Britain and the Netherlands could dramatically change within a few months with the arrival of direct train travel in under four hours.

Eurostar is set to launch its much-anticipated route between London St Pancras and Amsterdam Centraal for the peak city break holiday period this spring.

Various options for travel are shown in this graphic, including plane, car, coach, train and ferry

Various options for travel are shown in this graphic, including plane, car, coach, train and ferry

Various options for travel are shown in this graphic, including plane, car, coach, train and ferry

This direct route between city centres will see the train company declare a price war on low-cost airlines on one of the most competitive routes on the continent.

Exact journey times, regularity and fares are currently under wraps, but two trains a day are expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels and Rotterdam.

Train travel between London and Amsterdam currently takes between four hours 30 minutes and five hours, with one change at Brussels-Midi/Zuid station.

But a cut to under four hours will bring a strong challenge to flying, which currently takes just under an hour – but requires travel in and out of city centres at both ends. 

Eurostar has previously indicated that passengers will travel on e320 Siemens Velaro trains – and that the route could be extended to Utrecht if there is enough demand. 

Two Eurostar trains a day are expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels and Rotterdam

Two Eurostar trains a day are expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels and Rotterdam

Two Eurostar trains a day are expected in both directions, stopping in Brussels and Rotterdam

The route has faced delays, with initial hopes that it could have started by 2013 and then by this Christmas – but industry experts feel it will be worth the wait.

Travel to Amsterdam

Ferry: Train from London Liverpool Street to Harwich, ferry to Hoek van Holland, train to Amsterdam Centraal – from £55 one-way; £110 return

Eurostar: London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal, with a change at Brussels – from £55 single; £99 return

Coach: London Victoria Coach Station to Amsterdam – from £22 each way

Plane: Fly from London airports to Amsterdam Schipol – from £22 one-way (via Southend) and £44 return 

Car: Drive from London to Amsterdam, using Eurotunnel crossing – from £240 in fuel costs and crossing charges

Mark Smith, founder of the Seat 61 international rail website, said the direct route was ‘very exciting indeed’. 

He told MailOnline: ‘I think it’ll have a huge impact. It will make it possible to get from central London to central Amsterdam, centre to centre, in three hours 50 minutes, and you’ll be able to work and relax on tables with wi-fi, in a way that you can’t on planes.

‘London to Amsterdam is the second busiest air route in Europe, which means this is going to put the cat amongst the pigeons.

‘It’s an all-year round business, you’ve got business travel and leisure travel. So it’s not seasonal, like the South of France or French Alps.’

He added: ‘This will be a straight through train, convenient and fast. I think it’s going to be a bit of game changer for people going to Amsterdam.’

Train travel between London and Amsterdam using Eurostar currently takes up to five hours

Train travel between London and Amsterdam using Eurostar currently takes up to five hours

Train travel between London and Amsterdam using Eurostar currently takes up to five hours

Mr Smith also cited previous research by railway marketers that the ‘magic journey time’ was three hours to enable trains to compete with planes.

However he added that French operator SNCF said more recently that this had now risen to four or five hours due to extra airport security and congestion in the skies. 

There are 42 flights each way on an average weekend between the London airports and Amsterdam, including 15 from Heathrow, 11 from City and 10 from Gatwick. 

Mr Smith said Eurostar’s fares ‘have got to be competitive’, adding that airlines on the London-Paris route are heavily discounting fares because they cannot fill planes.

A Eurostar spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are focusing on getting ourselves used to operating on the new route and gearing up so that we are ready for the peak city break holiday period in spring.

More than three million passengers fly between London and Amsterdam (pictured) each ye

More than three million passengers fly between London and Amsterdam (pictured) each ye

More than three million passengers fly between London and Amsterdam (pictured) each ye

‘The new service will run from London to Amsterdam, and will stop in Brussels and Rotterdam along the way.

‘We’ll be announcing the opening of ticket sales in the coming months, and will then be able to share the exact journey time and fares as well.’

There had been plans in the 1990s for Eurostar to link Paris and Brussels with UK cities north of London, including Manchester via Birmingham and Glasgow via York.

But these ideas were hit by the growth of low-cost air travel around the same time, which meant significantly shorter journey times at much cheaper prices.