Thursday, August 8, 2013

The EuroStar Train through the Chunnel

I have had a few people ask how my experience on the EuroStar went, so I figured I could sum it all up. It's always easy in the future to just sent someone a link rather than write it all out again. :-)
The EuroStar is the train that connects London to mainland Europe. At this point it can only be taken from few different stations in the United Kingdom, and in mainland Europe, it can only be taken from France or Belgium. Since the United Kingdom is an island, the EuroStar passes through the channel tunnel, more commonly known as the Chunnel, which is 30+ miles long and goes up to 250 feet undersea. I was unable to check the speed of the train, but according to the wiki, it gets up to 99mph. For safety, there are apparently escape doors every 375 meters (where they escape to? no clue!).

Here are a few things that I feel are either important or interesting with regards to traveling on the EuroStar. Note: These are based off of my experience between London St Pancras International and Paris Gare du Nord on 27 & 29 July, 2013.
1.) You go through security at both train stations. Bags go through scanners, and you walk through metal detectors. You are not allowed weapons of any kind. You are allowed liquids unlike at airports. You are still allowed to bring drinks and food onto the train just like any other train. You do not need to remove laptops, phones, etc like at airports.
2.) Because the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Agreement, your passport is checked prior to entering the waiting area at both stations.
3.) It took us about 20 minutes to go through security and passport check, but this could have easily been longer. It is not like any other train where you can show up five minutes before departure. EuroStar has its own separate waiting area for their trains.
4.) There are free toilets in the waiting areas of both St Pancras and Gare du Nord. There are also food stands, shops, coffee shops, etc inside the waiting area. It's pretty much just like an airport
5.) Our train going to Paris had one European outlet plug (type E) on each row, while our train coming back, did not have any plugs at all. First class may have had more options, but I am not sure.
6.) There is no Wifi available on the train (not even in first class), and also not at the train stations. Mobile service while on the train can be spotty. 
7.) Travel time through the Chunnel is about 25 minutes. I did not feel any sort of change when being underground. I did however have some pressure in my ears when exiting a few different tunnels throughout the journey.
8.) The trains have toilets, but not the nicest. They are very similar to airplane restrooms, rather than the big ones that trains occasionally have.
9.) There are a few food cars if you need to get a drink or something to eat. I did not see a food trolley come through the cars asking if you want something to eat or drinks. 
10.) Trains are very long (18 or so cars), so when booking, try to book near the front so you don't have to walk really far when getting on and off.

Overall, it was a smooth journey. The seats are comfortable and have side head rests, so it is very easy to fall asleep, the lack of Wifi helps with that. 

Random Fact:
The tunnel was first proposed in 1802. It wasn't until 1994 that the railway opened for passengers.

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