Eurostar rival in the pipeline: Budget trains to Paris planned

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Budget train services from London to Paris may soon become a reality – but they’ll take 40 minutes longer than Eurostar trips and will run to Charles de Gaulle Airport

  • Getlink, the French operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants to run the service
  • It believes it can slash fares by up to 30 per cent by using older, slower lines
  • Getlink has the legal right to operate the cross-Channel rail link until 2086 

Peter Allen For Mail Online

Low cost but slower trains offering budget rail trips between Britain and continental Europe may soon become a reality.

Getlink, the French operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants to provide a cheaper alternative to the high-speed Eurostar service.

It currently runs trains between cities such as London and Paris, which can cost up to £370 for a standard return, or £550 in business premier.

Getlink, the French operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants to provide a cheaper alternative to the high-speed Eurostar service to Paris

Getlink, the French operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants to provide a cheaper alternative to the high-speed Eurostar service to Paris

Getlink, the French operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants to provide a cheaper alternative to the high-speed Eurostar service to Paris

While these fares drop considerably for those who book well in advance, Getlink feels there would be a huge market for a budget service.

Getlink – which used to be called EuroTunnel – believes it can slash fares by up to 30 per cent if it opens up the use of the Channel Tunnel.

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Lines could be opened up between Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, for example, and Stratford Station in London.

This would be an alternative for the currently very popular trip between Gare du Nord in Paris and London St Pancras, which takes around two-and-a-quarter-hours.

The new routes could be up to 40 minutes slower, according to those behind the scheme.

Eurostar's service is cheap if booked early, but can cost hundreds for a standard return

Eurostar's service is cheap if booked early, but can cost hundreds for a standard return

Eurostar’s service is cheap if booked early, but can cost hundreds for a standard return

A new report commissioned by Getlink reads: ‘Rail transport is about to undergo the transformation experienced by the airline sector between 2003 and 2005, with the emergence of low cost airlines in Europe.’

It says that similar cheap lines are currently operated across France, and that they would work if extended across the Channel.

Getlink chairman and CEO, Jacques Gounon, said: ‘The recipe is simple. You have to plan for departures and arrivals in the outlying stations and use the routes of the old lines, which are less rapid but where the tolls are cheaper.’

Operating costs would thus be slashed, allowing the savings to be passed on to the customers.

Getlink has the legal right to operate the cross-Channel rail link until 2086.

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An extension was agreed between the French and British governments in 1997 to extend the concession from 2052, with both countries taking 59 per cent of all profits generated. 



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