EUROPE: Cross-Channel high speed train operator Eurostar ran a preview service between London St Pancras and Amsterdam Centraal on February 20, to mark the opening of ticket sales for the regular twice-daily service which is scheduled to begin on April 4.
Conveying invited guests and travel industry representatives, the 08.31 ran non-stop to Brussels Midi in 106 min, and reached Amsterdam a couple of minutes after its scheduled 13.12 arrival.
Services will be operated using the Siemens e320 Velaro trainsets, of which 16 have now been delivered. Set 7, which had been used for the testing and commissioning programme, has now returned to the Wildenrath test centre and should be ready for passenger service in mid-March. Eurostar has an option to purchase a further six Velaros, but this has not yet been exercised.
The Amsterdam service will be operated between Brussels and Amsterdam by NS International as the licensed operator on HSL Zuid. A cohort of 20 drivers from the Thalys pool is being trained by Eurostar to work the e320s, which will be sufficient for the initial two trains per day.
On arrival in Amsterdam, the guests were greeted by NS Chief Executive Roger van Boxtel, who said the launch of the London service would boost international rail services across several countries.
Visiting the new check-in and lounge facilities being built for the service, Eurostar CEO Nicolas Petrovic described the new building as ‘distinctively Amsterdam and distinctively Eurostar’.