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We travel on the inaugural Eurostar train service to Amsterdam

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On Wednesday 4th April Eurostar launched its new route from London to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Passengers can now travel from St. Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal in 3 hours and 41 minutes.

On paper this is almost four times longer than the average flight time between the two cities.  To find out whether it is worth taking the Eurostar I went on the inaugural trip.  Club Eurostar provided us with a free one-way ticket, but this was not part of the official media group.

I was booked in Business Premier.  I won’t go into too much detail regarding the seat as Rob wrote an in-depth review back in 2016 when the new e320 trains were introduced to the London – Paris route.  Instead I will concentrate on the journey itself.

At St. Pancras

The train was scheduled to leave at 08:31 and arrive in Amsterdam at 13:12.  As you only need to get to the station 30 minutes before the scheduled departure – and with Business Premier you can arrive as late as 10 minutes before departure – you can save at least 90 minutes here compared to flying.

I got to St. Pancras around 07:30 as I had a Business Premier ticket and wanted to have breakfast and coffee in the lounge.  Remember that American Express Platinum cardholders get free access to Eurostar lounges in London, Brussels and Paris irrespective of travel class.  You cannot bring a guest but your partner probably has a supplementary Platinum card anyway.  Rob has never had a problem taking his children in too although this is discretionary.

Eurostar employees were handing out Stropwafels to passengers as they were queuing up to go through security.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

The Eurostar lounge is on your right as  you enter the station.  It is an odd shape, very long and not particularly wide.  The downstairs area of the lounge was fairly quiet.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

….. whilst upstairs was where everyone was waiting, chatting and taking videos and pictures.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

Just after 8am it was time to board the train:

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

I was in carriage 1 which was the last carriage and thereby at the other end of the platform.  The official media group was at the other end of the train – you may have seen pictures in the newspapers last week of Raymond Blanc personally supervising the food, but he never made it to my carriage.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

To celebrate the first  train ride to Amsterdam each passenger found a tote bag at their seat:

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

The Amsterdam services do not stop at Ashford International.  This allowed the train to set a record-breaking time to Brussels as you will see.

Shortly after leaving St. Pancras we were served breakfast:

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

After 1 hour and 48 minutes we stopped in Brussels. This was 17 minutes faster than the previous quickest timetabled journey.  I can imagine that the Eurostar ticketing team will be taking careful notes, as they need to juggle the number of people who just want to travel from Brussels to Amsterdam with those travelling London to Brussels (and this is now the fastest service of the day) and those travelling through to The Netherlands.

Eurostar from London to Amsterdam

After leaving Brussels alcoholic drinks and snacks were served.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

I chose a glass of champagne (Piper) and was given a cheese and meat box. The cheese was very strong which I don’t like but the meat was very good.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

Three hours after leaving St. Pancras we stopped in Rotterdam:


And 40 minutes later we had reached our destination: Amsterdam.  That said, we had to wait on the tracks outside the station for about 10 minutes before continuing to our platform.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

At Amsterdam Centraal everything was pretty unspectacular.  I was secretly hoping for a big party but it was not to be. I got off the train, walked down the platform, down the stairs and out of the station.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

There was no passport control as that had already happened in London.

Eurostar inaugural London to Amsterdam

Eurostar’s chief executive Mike Cooper said about the new route to Amsterdam:

“The departure of our first commercial service to Amsterdam represents a historic milestone for Eurostar and the growth of international high speed rail. With the Netherlands becoming increasingly popular as a business and tourism destination, the potential for our new route is significant and we look forward to offering our customers a fast, seamless connection between these key European cities.”

Will the new service be a success?

Having to compete with 17 daily flights from London to Amsterdam, it won’t be easy to win over frequent flyers on this route.  The arrival times of 13:12 and 22:12 are also not very business friendly. On the other hand Eurostar offers almost seamless wi-fi connection on the whole route, apart for a few bits as you can see on the map below, which means you can work during the journey.

eurostar wifi

For comparison, I took a BA flight from Amsterdam back to London City the next day.  I left the hotel (IHG’s Kimpton De Witt, more on that soon) at 11am and walked to the central station which took about five minutes. The next train to the airport was leaving at 11:34am, my flight was at 1:40pm but ended up being slightly delayed and I was back in the HFP office at Moorgate by 2:45pm UK time.

All in all my journey took 4 hours and 45 minutes.  Given that I could get from the office to St Pancras in around 15 minutes, the total travel time – at least outbound – is virtually identical by train and I would have had more opportunity to work on the way.


I can see why taking the train instead of a plane can be attractive on the London to Amsterdam route, although a lot will depend on how easy it is for you to get to St Pancras compared to your nearest airport.  With KLM and its partners flying from every major UK regional airport you are never far from a plane to Schiphol.

The real problem is on the return.  Until the passport control facilities in Amsterdam and Rotterdam are in use, you need to change trains in Brussels on the way back in order to be screened.  This will happen once a formal agreement has been signed between the UK and Dutch governments, but it’s probably not going to happen before late 2019. The increases the travel time to almost five hours which is unfortunate, and will certainly lead to people travelling to Amsterdam by train and back by plane as I did.

Whilst most of the publicity around this route has focused on Amsterdam, I think that Rotterdam will be the quiet success story.  The train takes about three hours, whilst the flying options are limited.  Rotterdam’s airport is not exactly a major hub, with no rail connection, whilst most of the major corporate offices are very close to the station.

I do recommend giving Eurostar a go on your next trip to Amsterdam or Rotterdam in order to make up your own mind.

Remember that Club Eurostar is still offering double points on all trips to the Netherlands booked before 13th April for travel by 31st August.  This is only valid on Eurostar trains and not any connecting Thalys services.  The bonus points do not count towards your status level.

Thanks to Club Eurostar for their help in arranging my trip.

How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards

How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (June 2023)

Club Eurostar does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards

Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 4,000 Club Eurostar points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you will get the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.

American Express Platinum comes with a great Eurostar benefit – Eurostar lounge access!  

You can enter any Eurostar lounge, irrespective of your ticket type, simply by showing The Platinum Card at the desk.  No guests are allowed but you can get entry for your partner by issuing them with a free supplementary Amex Platinum card on your account.

Comments (41)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Wivus says:

    We have an office just outside Rotterdam, so this would be useful if we were not based in the West Midlands. I’ll wait until HS2 is completed. Or maybe not as I will be 6ft under by then.
    Until then I will continue with my campaign for direct flights from Stratford Upon Avon to Delft.

    • Mikeact says:

      Can’t you hitch a ride in that VC10 at Wellesbourne.?

      • Wivus says:

        Good idea. Just need a pilot from around Wellesourne or Honeybourne that does not still think it is WW 2 🙂

  • Rob Al says:

    Don’t forget you can use 4g on your mobile for no extra cost for the duration of the route – often better than onboard WiFi I find. I agree that Rotterdam is likely the more popular destination here – 20 minutes to The Hague by train from Rotterdam Centraal too, for example. The return does mess it up, but RTM-LCY is fairly frequent and Rotterdam Airport is tiny and still operates like City many years ago – you can stand in the middle and see all the gates from one spot, so getting there 30 minutes before departure is certainly possible if you have only hand luggage.

  • Tim says:

    Interesting to see HFP has made a return to the Kimpton De Witt after an unfavourable first review. I stayed there and thought it was great. It’ll be interesting to see what you think now!

    • Rob says:

      We told IHG we had been invited on the Eurostar trip so they offered us a free room if we agreed to take another look. They accept that the opening was bodged and that it was a walking disaster at the time I stayed.

  • Mike G says:

    I travel regularly to Amsterdam, often multiple times per month. There is nothing in this Eurostar service that would even make me consider switching from a LCC flight. Last year I travelled regularly to Brussels on Eurostar, and could usually guarantee some kind of hold-up, especially on the way back on a Friday night.

  • JPV says:

    Ha, I’ve been to the eurostar lounge at st pancras half a dozen times and I had no idea there was an upstairs section!

    Personally, given comparable journey times and prices, train wins over flying 100% of the time for me.

  • Richard M says:

    The other thing that might be of interest to leisure travellers if not those on business, is that there are good and cheap rail connections to north Germany from Amsterdam. A two-hourly frequency intercity train runs from Amsterdam to Berlin via Hannover, with additional same-day connections off this up to Hamburg and elsewhere in Lower Saxony. Fares start from 39.90 Euros one way via

  • Paul says:

    One good thing about the train is you can take a couple of bottles of nice bottles of wine on board if you are going for a romantic get away.

    Alternatively if you are away with the “lads” your can take your own crate of beer.

    Coupled with the fact that I live near St Pancras, the train wins hands down.

  • Jon says:

    Thanks for the review.

    Also remember that taking the train is far more environmentally friendly than flying that distance. If you’re at all concerned about your carbon footprint it’s a no brainer. I always take the Eurostar to Paris rather than the plane even though Heathrow is just 35 mins from Guildford where I live. I get on enough planes as it is so I’m very happy to take the train.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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