Sunday, March 28, 2010

Compare Eurostar and Plane Ride When Traveling in Europe

Traveling by air has always given the people of this planet the ability to hop from one continent to another in a matter of hours. There is no doubt whatsoever, airline travel has not only changed the way we travel, but it has also impacted on our daily lives.

Strawberries in the middle of winter, to packages sent the same day from the other side of the world. The aero plane has certainly made a big impact on society.

The airliner and the airlines have been the predominant choice for the majority of business people and holidaymaker's alike, looking for quick, efficient and nowadays, a cheap way to travel. There are of course alternative ways to travel, but to some, seem a little outdated.

Many years ago, the train was the lifeblood of countries and economies. The train system, certainly in the UK can leave a lot to be desired at times, but this has been due to the continued under investment from successive governments.

Since the opening of the Channel tunnel in the late 90's, the Eurostar train system linking the UK to mainline Europe has seen progressive growth, despite earlier faltering's. Now this service seems likely to be the major opposition to the low cost airlines flying from the UK to Europe, especially from airports in the London area.

Typically, a flight from London Heathrow to Paris Charles De Gaul (CDG) airport takes just under 1 hour. That seems really quick especially if you need to be in Paris for a business meeting. Now consider these points. London Heathrow is not actually in the centre of London, nor is Paris (CDG). The distance from London Heathrow to the the centre of London is approximately 15 miles, and is pretty much the same from Paris (CDG) to the centre of Paris. With that said, that 1 hour doesn't seem so appealing after all.

We arrived at the check in point at London Waterloo International at just after 14:00. The train we were due to travel on departed at 15:11, calling at Calais and Paris Gare de Nord (the north station). We had traveled by tube to get to Waterloo station, which took about 25 minutes, involving 1 change at Leicester square at a cost of £2 per person.

We had taken the opportunity to book the tickets for the Eurostar in good time and received a great deal. For just £59 return, per person, our total spend so far had totaled £120. Two Eurostar tickets at £59, and two underground tickets at £2 each. We had looked at flying from Heathrow with British Airways and their cheapest fare was £69 per person. Not much difference in the price, but the travel to heathrow and also from Paris (CDG) would probably equate to the same again. Not a good choice.

After initial security and passport controls, we took our seats at 14:55. At exactly 15:11 the train glided effortlessly out of the station with the view of the magnificent London Eye visible to our right. So far so good.

The journey out of London takes you through the suburbs of Brixton and then finally out into the countryside. It seems a little dated on the English side as regards the state of the railway, but after about 35 minutes into the journey, we turn off the old victorian railway onto the brand new, recently commissioned UK high speed line and race along the kent countryside at speeds up to 300kmh (186 mph).

It doesn't seem long before we are going to say goodbye to England and the announcement informs us that the transit time in the Channel Tunnel will be approximately twenty minutes. In no time at all, we exit the tunnel to a glorious blue sky in France.

After making a stop at Calais, we have about an hour and twenty minutes before we reach our final destination. Racing through the French countryside and negotiating the Paris suburbs, we arrive two minutes early. It really was a great journey on Eurostar, and now we are at the very heart of Paris. Those people who had decided to take the plane would now be fighting for taxis or taking the RER train system into city centre. Another 30 to 40 minutes more to add to the journey, not to mention the cost.

The total journey time from the centre of London to the centre of Paris had taken us a measly 2 hours and 40 minutes (approx). This is due to be slashed to around 2 hours and 15 minutes once the remainder of the UK high speed rail link is commissioned in 2007. Once the line is opened, Eurostar will be moving homes and will no longer operate from London Waterloo, transferring to London St.Pancras.

The aero plane laid claim to the king of transportation. After traveling with Eurostar, we say the king is dead, long live the king. Airline domination from London to Paris and Europe has finally had it's day.

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