Regional ticketing deal for Eurostar

REGIONAL train operator National Express East Anglia has linked up with international high-speed operator Eurostar to offer through fares to continental destinations including Paris and Brussels.

REGIONAL train operator National Express East Anglia has linked up with international high-speed operator Eurostar to offer through fares to continental destinations including Paris and Brussels.

Local stations including Norwich, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Manningtree all now offer through fares to mainland Europe, via Eurostar's new St Pancras International terminus in London which opened last year.

Eurostar journeys by travellers living in East Anglia were up by more than a third in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period a year ago, before Eurostar services were switched to St Pancras International from their former London home at Waterloo.

And the through-ticket arrangement with NXEA, the ninth such partnership to be agreed by Eurostar with domestic train operators, is expected to add further to the demand.


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Travellers from East Anglia can now buy through tickets to Paris, Brussels and a host of other destinations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany with return fares starting at £77.

Although, for travellers from East Anglia, the journey via St Pancras means re-crossing their route at Stratford, the fares include the transfer from Liverpool Street by London Underground at no extra cost, and also include a guarantee that travellers will be put on the next available train if there is a late running service in either direction.

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David Lewis, sales and marketing director for NXEA, said: “National Express is committed to making travel simpler. The opportunity to buy through fares from East Anglia to the Continent is a great step towards achieving this.”

Eurostar claims that the service compares favourable with that of budget airlines, with a fastest total journey time from Ipswich of four hours 20 minutes to Brussels and four hours 40 minutes to Paris (including the transfer from Liverpool Street to St Pancras International and a 30-minute Eurostar check-in deadline). In addition, unlike many air fares, rail fares not subject to booking fees or taxes.

Simon Montague, director of communications for Eurostar, added: “With Eurostar's move to St Pancras International and with through fares at prices as good as or better than those offered by regional airlines, millions more UK residents have much greater choice in they way they travel to the Continent.

“The increasing numbers of UK travellers choosing to travel to mainland Europe by rail shows that a clear shift is occurring, with more and more people regarding the train as a better option.”

n Stratford International station on the new high-speed line from St Pancras, which in theory offers a more convenient interchange for travellers from East Anglia, has yet to open and it is uncertain when, or even if, Eurostar services will start to call there.

High-speed domestic services calling at both Stratford International and Ebbsfleet International (which is served by Eurostar) are due to be introduced by Southeastern Railway in December 2009 but it remains unclear whether connections with Eurostar services will offer improved journey times from East Anglia.

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