Government now trying to keep Eurostar in Amsterdam after intense criticism
State Secretary Viviann Heijnen of Infrastructure will try to keep the Eurostar high-speed train between Amsterdam and London running during renovations to Amsterdam Central Station next year. She said this on Tuesday after meeting with Eurostar CEO Gwendoline Cazenave and after severe criticism from Amsterdam politicians, travelers, and the business community.
Last week, Heijnen reported to parliament that the Eurostar train wouldn’t be able to run to and from Amsterdam for about 11 months starting in June next year due to renovations at Amsterdam Central Station. The terminal that services the international train, where the Koninklijke Marechaussee performs the necessary passport checks, will be demolished before the temporary one is ready to use.
Cazenave is against leaving Amsterdam for nearly a year. “I understand that very well,” Heijnen said on Tuesday, ANP reports. She agreed with all parties to check on site whether the current terminal can continue to be used during the renovations until the temporary facility is ready. Until now, ProRail ruled out that option as too unsafe because it would mean that travelers have to cross the construction site.
The news that the Eurostar between Amsterdam and London could disappear for eleven months was met with criticism across the board.
Amsterdam alderman Melanie van der Horst (transport) called it “inexplicable that such an important train connection is lost for so long. Especially now that we are trying to make the train more attractive to reduce the number of short flights.” She told AT5 that the Eurostar train is “crucial for our city” and that she would work with the Ministry, ProRail, and NS in any way to shorten the period in which it can’t run.
Travelers’ organization Rover called the decision “unheard of.” Between 5,200 and 6,500 travelers use the Eurostar train every day. “A popular train has to grow and flourish; you don’t prune it,” the organization told the Volkskrant.
The over 70 large employers united in the Coalitie Anders Reizen have been pushing policy to use the train instead of short flights for business travel to destinations up to 700 kilometers away. The coalition was set up with the government’s climate goals in mind, and it is therefore flabbergasted that the international train between Amsterdam and London will disappear for eleven months.
“The announced break for the Eurostar to London is a major risk,” the coalition said. “It breaks the routines of business travelers to catch the train. The Coalitie Anders Rezien calls on the State Secretary to look more broadly at how the train service can remain intact and be further expanded.