No Amsterdam-London trains for months next year due to maintenance work
No trains will run between Amsterdam and London for as much as a year beginning in June 2024 due to work at the Amsterdam Central Station. Due to the renovation, there will not be any space during that time for the hall which currently houses Customs checks, said Infrastructure State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen in a letter on Friday to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament.
As a result, the Eurostar trains cannot depart from Amsterdam until May 2025 at the latest. According to Heijnen, attempts have been made to find a solution, but they have not succeeded. "I find that very disappointing," she wrote.
Passengers who still want to travel to London by train will probably have to board the train to London in Brussels. It is not yet known whether Rotterdam will remain a station for the Eurostar line. Heijnen will soon discuss the timetable with Eurostar and other parties.
The high-speed train has only been running on the route since 2020. At first it seemed the route would disappear for ten years, but Dutch national railway NS and infrastructure firm ProRail were able to reverse that. A temporary Customs terminal is being built in the Amstelpassage at Amsterdam Central Station, but it will not be ready in time before the existing terminal has to be demolished. According to Heijnen, keeping the existing terminal in use for longer is not safe, because passengers then have to cross through the construction site.
Eurostar leader Gwendoline Cazenave will come to the Netherlands on Monday for a meeting with the ministry, ProRail and NS, a spokesperson for the transport company said. "We are looking for a compromise. But if there is no solution, we will have to stop our direct timetable from the Netherlands to London," he added. The spokesperson could not yet say whether that would be permanent or temporary
According to Eurostar, only running from Rotterdam to London would be unprofitable. Due to the limited space at the Rotterdam station, only 160 passengers can board there, while the trains have a capacity for 900 passengers. Without the maximum of 265 passengers boarding at Amsterdam Central, the trains will be too empty.
Eurostar called the connection between Amsterdam and London one of the most successful routes. From March next year, Eurostar wanted to increase the daily number of journeys from four to five. "In the past five years, we have transported 1.6 million passengers via this line. We notice that people are really looking for a sustainable way of traveling. We have also calculated that without these trains, 21 more aircraft would have to fly from Schiphol every day."
One organization representing passengers' rights, Rover, said it found it incomprehensible that a solution could not be found to keep the trains operating at Amsterdam Central Station. Travelers between the two cities will essentially be "out in the cold for months," Rover said. It called on ProRail and Heijnen to adjust the plans in such a way that the connection will be maintained.
"It is unheard of that a planned renovation means travelers can no longer travel to London sustainably. A popular train must grow and flourish, you cannot just prune it," said Rover director Freek Bos. He pointed out that Heijnen previously said it was unacceptable to lose the Eurostar route, he said he believes that the state secretary "must therefore live up to this."
Reporting by ANP