by Jolanta Ryba
At 14.04 our train left London – St. Pancras for Brussels – Midi. What was surprising, all the travel procedures were efficiently carried out. Eurostar, which this November celebrates 20 years in business, has got very friendly and welcoming staff, the daily routine does not seem to affect their professional service. We did not know, where the cash point was, but a nice, smartly dressed girl – a Eurostar worker, directed us to the right place. So we could use the cash machine to change our money into euros. Eurostar staff in new uniforms at St. Pancras station, Eurostar is run by a Eurostar International Ltd. company, owned by SNCF, SNCB, London and Continental Railways. It seems to be a well run organization, it prides itself on punctuality and excellent customer -focused service. Eurostar reminds me of luxury train travel across Europe, before World War 2, when the trains were so punctual, that you could set your watch by the train arriving or departing. Also, it was a privilege to work in the railways uniform. This same pride to work we can observe today at the Eurostar services, train stations, platforms.
Standard Class Travel Experience
It was not difficult to find our seats and enjoy the journey. Seats were big enough for both of us. The view out the train windows changed so amazingly quickly. As we entered various tunnels on the way to France, we could feel the pressure in our ears. The train dashed through the North London tunnel, then under the Thames passing through Kent, industrial estates, wind turbines and cows in the flooded meadows. We saw along the sides of the track, sound barrier walls and lots of new young trees planted in order to block the noise. At the tunnel entrance we saw security towers with armed soldiers, as we past into the Channel Tunnel. Suddenly, our tthe temperature dropped and our continental gauge high speed trains was taking us to France through the Channel tunnel. Good air condition – just right temperature during the travel let us relax and read a little. At the end of tunnel, we can see Calais – more open and flatter territory, than in England. We see Flanders countryside area in the North of France and many people working there. Your mobile receiving an automatic message about the roaming possibility and after the Lille stop is announced in French. It was generally very nice to enjoy England, France and Belgium changing so quick by the window. Sometime later, we arrived at Brussels Midi Train Station.
We have visited our friend, who lives in the Belgium countryside, just outside Brussels. He met us in La Falstaff Restaurant, which is a historical place, facing the Burse. It is famous for its authentic Art Noveau architecture, featuring stained glass, mirrors, lamps and woodwork. This popular bar was created in 1903 and has its specific local atmosphere.Subsequently, we walked to the Grand Place and popped into another café the King of Spain, it has an authentic stuffed king’s horse. Later we found this excellent Thai restaurant with the fantastic Asian food. We celebrated our meeting in the great multicultural Belgian atmosphere.
We enjoyed visiting the area near the Palace of Justice, which afforded great view points of the city. Nearby we visited the Marroles city district, famous for its large number of antiques shops, in the area where the Lower Town meets the Upper Town. There is a real Mecca for stylists and designers. We also visited the modern European Parliament complex, which is empty at weekends, but even so is an impressive place to visit. Even so it is a great place to visit.
Business Premier Class
A few days later, we could compare standard class travel with business premier class travel from Brussels to London. Passengers looked the same, but you could expect a lot more. Firstly, you have got a possibility to use Premier Business Lounge with the nice ladies welcoming and a bar with the snacks, biscuits, hot and cold drinks. Big armchairs are comfortable, with the proper light to read and a range of woman’s and world business magazines.Secondly, during the excellent 3 course meal served to us with a glass of champagne at the start. It was a delicious mushroom lasagne, scones with cluttered cream and strawberry jam, properly chopped egg salad with ham and parsley, president butter, 2 sorts of bread, coffee, tea, coca – cola, mineral water and small macaroons extra from the French factory. Waitrose supplied the food. The staffs treats passengers in a kind, respectful manner, calling you “madam” and “sir”, asking, if everything is OK, like in the best restaurants. Towards the end of our journey, the staff gave us hot towels to refresh your hands. What an excellent service! We need to repeat our travel again as soon as possible. Maybe Paris next time?
By the way, 2014 is a transformational year for Eurostar – not only because of twentieth birthday of Eurostar in November and a wide-ranging programme of activities scheduled throughout the year. More than 10 million passengers have used the cross – channel service last year, profits have increased by 4 % to £54 million there are planned introduction to a new, longer distance services, not only for Europe, but also for international markets. The popularity of Eurostar’s trial service to the South of France, last summer, the Route du Soleil, was a great success. It has been decided that this route will become a permanent service to Provence, connecting London with Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles in 2015. Belgium and the Netherlands will also will benefit with a direct service linking London with, Antwerp and Amsterdam. In addition, there will be a planned ski service to Geneva next winter. People like to travel for pleasure or must to travel for business. We are travelling nation and many of us prefer travelling by trains across Europe. Eurostar train services are a great travel experience!
Eurostar Fact Box
Eurostar reports strong growth in 2013 as it enters twentieth year of services
- 2013 marks the first year in which Eurostar carries more than 10 million passengers in a single year (passenger volumes up 2% year-on-year to 10.1 million)
- 140 million passengers since services began and tenth consecutive year of growth in traffic
- Sales revenues up 7% year-on-year to £857 million reflecting strong growth in corporate and leisure sales1
- Strong performance delivers operating profit of £54 million, up 4% year-on-year
Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, today reported a strong performance in 2013 with continued increases in both passenger numbers and sales revenues during a year which saw the business celebrate two record breaking passenger milestones.
Passenger numbers grew 2% in 2013 to 10.1 million (2012 : 9.9 million), marking the first time that Eurostar has carried more than 10 million passengers in a single year. The milestone was achieved as the business enters its twentieth year of operation and brings to 140 million the total number of passengers who have travelled with Eurostar since services began in 1994.
Over the same period, sales revenues grew 7%1 to £857 million reflecting emerging stability in the UK corporate travel market and strong growth in UK leisure ticket sales revenues. This growth in sales revenues has driven an increase in profitability and Eurostar today reports an operating profit of £54 million, up 4% year-on-year (2012: £52.0 million2).
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