Ashford International station

UK: Eurostar services will not stop at Ebbsfleet or Ashford International stations during 2023, and the cross-Channel high speed train operator told Rail Business UK ‘we cannot make any commitment for another two to three years’.

On August 23 Eurostar said ’our recovery is progressing well, but we have considerable financial commitments following the pandemic which we will continue to face for a number of years. Our border environment has also toughened post-Brexit, and further complexity is expected with the launch of the EU’s Entry/Exit System.’

Now expected to be operational end of May 2023, EES will be an automated IT system for registering the name, type of travel document, fingerprints and facial images, and date and place of entry and exit for short-stay visa holders and visa exempt travellers from third countries each time they cross an EU external border.

Eurostar said ’while we continue to operate in an uncertain and fragile environment, we must focus on our most profitable inter-capital routes to enable us to meet our financial commitments, stabilise our operation and our customer experience, before considering any further developments.

‘We understand that this will be disappointing for the local communities, and we will continue to work closely and openly with the local councils on the future of the stations.’


Responding to the news, Leader of Ashford Borough Council Councillor Gerry Clarkson said ‘the prospect that Eurostar is not even going to make a decision on its return until 2024 represents a real challenge for those residents and businesses that rely on the service, and those that work locally’.

He said ‘we are in regular dialogue with Eurostar and we will continue to work with partners, including Kent County Council, our MP Damian Green, government and High Speed 1, to ensure services at Ashford International station return. We will not give up on this and will continue to make the case for their return, as soon as it is commercially viable.’

Ebbsfleet Development Corp, the organisation tasked by the government with facilitating the development of a new community and business district, said ’we believe that in the medium term the station at Ebbsfleet provides an important opportunity for travellers from a wide area of the southeast to access Eurostar services without the need to travel into central London. Furthermore, the growth of a vibrant business community at Ebbsfleet will generate further market demand for services.’