Unusually empty carriages on Eurostar trains running through the underground tunnel under the English Channel between Britain and France do not at all indicate a decrease in demand for services. The reason is different.
Empty seats on the Eurostar train demonstrate 30% occupancy – this is the number of passengers that can be served at passport control. The company deliberately sells just that many tickets during peak hours, as the border police cannot carry out strict post-Brexit passport control at the border of the kingdom at the required pace.
Passengers are outraged by the current situation, but, alas, their opinion is not able to change anything:
“All this is especially unpleasant when you didn’t want to leave the European Union at all. I think that travel is very important, especially for my generation it is very important to be able to travel freely. Today I’m going on a business trip, and this actually prevents me from doing my job in Europe. It’s just a shame!”.
“The queues at passport control have become much longer: now people are divided into those who have a British passport and who have a European one. I have a French passport, so I personally go through pretty quickly. But I see that the British most often spend a lot of time in queues”.
Travel has been kept to a minimum during the coronavirus pandemic, understandably. However, now, with the increase in passenger traffic, the waiting time has increased significantly and has led to a limitation in the number of passengers. Peak power is 30% lower than in 2019. Due to the fact that British passports are handled separately, Eurostar asks passengers to arrive 90 minutes prior to train departure. But this does not solve the problem: traffic jams still occur at Eurostar stations, and trains leave early in the morning. Every day up to 250 places remain empty.
Eurostar hopes that the European Union and the UK will involve more border police and install more electronic barriers, reducing check-in time at the station. In the meantime… In order to secure a seat during peak hours, passengers will have to plan their trip in advance.
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