Sunday, April 21, 2019

Cologne to London (with Thalys and Eurostar)

On day 4/10 starts in Cologne, today I will cross the English channel and arrive to London.
 Cologne Cathedral
 Original station in Köln was bombed during World War II, the new station was constructed in 1957
 A few years ago there were plans to introduce direct ICE train from Frankfurt/Köln to London, but so far nothing has happened. From an article in Independent in 2018: "ICE direct services to London will not be on the agenda in the foreseeable future. The decisive factors are technical and economic reasons: the ICE BR 407 is not yet registered in Belgium and the economic environment has changed significantly as a result of the price competition with low-cost airlines."
 Here it is, ICE Class 407 - unfortunately used here only for domestic services.

 Staff from Thalys is already on the platform guiding the passengers on where each coach will stop on the platform.
 Thalys service from Germany to Paris
 Thalys PBKA train is arriving

 Seat reservation for Interrail is expensive, from Germany to Belgium it is 20EUR for 2nd and 25EUR for 1st class. The cheapest single ticket in Premium class is 40EUR.
 Since few years ago, Thalys has now 3 classes, Standard, Comfort and Premium. It is a similar classification as for Spanish AVE train, where there is 2nd class and two sorts of 1st class (one with food and drinks and the other one without).

 In Premium class a breakfast is served in the morning


Belgian railway line 37 between Aachen and Liege is the oldest crossborder railway line worldwide.
Here is the entrance to Aachener Buschtunnel, 691m

Since 2009, the high speed trains Thalys and ICE are running on the HSL 3 between Hergenrath and Chênée.

HSL 3 is 42km long and it is equipped with ETCS Level 2 signalling system. Operating speed is 260km/h

Liege-Guillemins station

From Liege the train is taking HSL 2 which opened in 2002. Operating speed here is 300km/h

Intercity Amsterdam-Brussels


Arriving to Brussels

Eurostar platforms are surrounded by a high fence.
Thalys train at Brussels-Midi station

Until there are direct trains between Germany and London, passengers have to change trains here in Brussels. However, there are now direct Eurostar trains between Amsterdam and London.

There is almost 1h between the trains, and there are strict requirements for Eurostar to arrive well in advance.
The reason is the security and passport control. In my case the whole process took just some minutes.
Charging batteries and excercising at the same time
A long waiting before departure. There is not much to entertain yourself with here.

Boarding starts around 10-15 min before departure.
Siemens Velaro e320 or British Rail Class 374

Leaving the Eurostar gate
For Interrail travellers there is a special reservation fee, 30EUR for 2nd (Standard) or 38EUR for 1st (Premier) classes. Eurostar has a dedicated web page for Interrail travellers, but it has a bug at the payment process, so I booked my seats by calling Eurostar. It is possible to change the assigned seat at the website later on.

A light (cold) meal is served in Premier class. Drinks are included in the price.
A stop at Lille Europe station
Unfortunately there was a longer stop here, due to a delayed train from Marseille. TGV 5154 was delayed with 50 minutes, which made our train be delayed with 40 min. Eurostar is owned by SNCF so it does make sense, on the other hand it feels a bit unfair to delay one train because of another.

Entering the tunnel
In the tunnel
After the tunnel

A mirror at the seat in front

Arriving to London

All passengers have to exit through the same small gate

St Pancras International station

My hotel next to the station
Nearby is King's Cross station

London Underground

Last time I visited London it was a heavy rain. I feel very lucky to enjoy London in this sunny weather
Trafalgar square

Picadilly circus

Green park

Buckingham palace

Parliament square garden
Westminster abbey

My next destination is The Shard - a 95-storey supertall skyscraper, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Standing 309.6 metres high, the Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the tallest building in the European Union, and the sixth-tallest building in Europe (Wikipedia).

London view from 95th floor

The best part of this skyscrape was the toilet with a view

 King's Cross station at night

 Entrance to night train to Inverness

No comments:

Post a Comment