Source: Schengen Visa Info
Eurostar has said that its trains between the United Kingdom and Paris are carrying 30 percent fewer passengers than their capacity.
According to the chief executive, Gwendoline Cazenave, Eurostar is being forced to carry fewer passengers because of the delays that have been caused by post-Brexit border arrangements, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Financial Times explains that Cazenave said that the demand has significantly increased compared to 2020 and 2021. However, stations in London, Paris, as well as in Brussels, could not handle a large number of passengers due to the strict passport checks introduced in 2021.
“The thing is now we are not able to run the same transport offer as what we had before in 2019, because of bottlenecks in stations. We have a main issue in Eurostar terminals because of the new boarding conditions between the UK and EU, because of the impact of COVID, because of staff in the stations,” the statement of Cazenave reads.
Back when there were no border checks for nationals of the UK, they were able to visit Paris and come back overnight but the new system no longer allows this. For this reason, the number of passengers permitted to board Eurostar trains from the UK to Paris has been limited.
According to Financial Times, the first trains that leave from London to Paris every morning fill only 550 out of their 894 seats in order to prevent jams.
As for the trains between Paris and London, the same source notes that Eurostar runs 14 daily trains, less than in 2019 when it ran 18 or more. Even though Eurostar has been able to run 14 daily trains between Paris and London, it has not been revealed when the number will increase to its pre-pandemic levels.
Eurostar has already increased the number of staff and has also installed an additional French passport control booth in London. Nonetheless, the number of passengers who can go through the border continues to remain limited due to the tight space.
Even though Eurostar is dealing with such problems, Cazenave stressed that the number of passengers neared the pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2022. Data show that from July until December 2022, the number of passengers reached almost 80 percent of the pre-pandemic levels.
Currently, all UK passengers traveling to a European Union country need to have their passports stamped when they cross the border. The checks will be replaced by the Entry/Exit System which is due to be implemented at the end of this year.