Brexit travel restrictions on passports leave Eurostar trains running with empty seats

10 months ago 110

Out of 900 seats, up to 350 seats can be left unsold on the first services from London to Paris and Brussels.

04:05, Wed, Jan 25, 2023 | UPDATED: 04:12, Wed, Jan 25, 2023

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travel restrictions on British passports are forcing some trains at peak times to leave with a large number of empty seats, reports state. In spite of "huge demand" for greener travel border police are unable to process passports quickly enough to get passengers through the station.

Ever since Brexit British passport holders have their documents stamped separately, leading to a bottleneck situation at London St Pancras.

Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave told The Guardian that even though passengers are told to arrive up to 90 minutes before their departure time, this is sometimes still not long enough to get through the process.

She said that the COVID-19 pandemic had "reduced drastically the number of border police staff in Paris Nord and St Pancras" and the Brexit rules mean British passports must be stamped.

Ms Cazenave added: "Even I – I have a work permit, they know who I am – they ask: ‘What are you going to do in the UK?’. It takes almost 30 percent more time [than before]."


Eurostar trains are leaving with empty seats due to Brexit restrictions (Image: Getty)

Currently the Eurostar service can only offer around 70 percent of pre-Covid and Brexit seats, with capacity the top priority to be addressed.

London to Amsterdam is one of the most popular routes, yet only 250 seats can be filled due to the lack of space for border controls.

Ms Cazenave said: "The pity is we cannot offer enough seats because of these station bottlenecks."

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Aerial view flying over St Pancras International

Trains leaving St Pancras can have hundreds of empty seats (Image: Getty)

Services from Ebbsfleet and Ashford are still unavailable as Ms Cavenaze said she wanted to tackle the problem at the hub stations first.

Chief commercial officer François Le Doze said early morning services were most affected, yet trains throughout the day were capped in order to stop delays worsening.

He said: "We have become expert in capping trains – fine tuning the number of seats available."

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Gare du Nord Rail Station Paris France

Gare du Nord railway station in Paris (Image: Getty)

He admitted it was making fares more expensive for passengers wanting to make their travel better for the planet.

Mr Le Doze added: "It’s like organic food. “As long as there’s a capacity issue it throws up difficulties."

The issue is likely to become worse by the end of the year when the EU introduces its entry-exit system for foreign travellers, which will include UK nationals.

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