Eurostar’s popular route from Amsterdam to London will shut for around six months next year, Dutch Railways has announced, in a significant hit to the high-speed operator.
Trains from the Dutch capital will run empty between June 2024 to Spring 2025, as a large-scale refurbishment of Amsterdam Centraal station takes place.
It confirms earlier reports from City A.M. that the rail group was “not confident” in talks to prevent the key routes’ closure, despite intense backroom discussions with Dutch officials.
Passengers travelling to London from Amsterdam and Rotterdam will be forced to change at Brussels until the works are complete.
Building works at the station mean there will not be enough space to handle passengers heading to London, in part due to the requirements of additional post-Brexit bureaucracy.
Eurostar currently runs four daily trains between London and Amsterdam, via Rotterdam. It means the group’s network has shrunk from 13 year-round stations pre-Brexit to just four currently in full operation.
Other Eurostar route closures in recent years include its direct train to Disneyland Paris and the line to Marseille via Avignon and Lyon.
A statement from Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), carried by the Independent, read: “Unfortunately, we have had to conclude that despite all efforts, there will be a period in which there will be no direct train to London from Amsterdam.”
“That is very disappointing because we have worked hard in recent years to make the Eurostar to London an attractive alternative to the plane. It is a particularly difficult puzzle to solve. If there had been a simple solution, all parties would have seized it with both hands.”
The pause to the Amsterdam link coincides with a resurgence in leisure demand to pre-pandemic levels, a key factor in Eurostar’s bid to shore up its finances.
“Amsterdam is really a key destination, the key for us and we want to do our best to keep operating. Or if there is a gap, keep the gap as small as possible,” François Le Doze, Eurostar’s chief commercial officer, told City A.M. in October.
Gwendoline Cazenave, CEO of Eurostar Group said: “Eurostar has always aimed to find a solution that would have the least possible impact on customers, the environment and its business. We acknowledge that a final decision has been made.
”We are pleased that the discussions have shortened the gap in services between Amsterdam and London from 12 to six months and we continue to work on reducing the inconvenience for passengers, local residents and the economy of Amsterdam and surrounding areas. It is very important that all the parties involved are responsible and supportive of each other to meet the deadlines.”
“As part of this work, we will still run services directly between London and Amsterdam one way as a minimum. We will be working collaboratively in the coming weeks to further mitigate the impacts for Eurostar and its customers over the six-month gap and more information will be made available in due course.”