Eurostar High Speed Trains Through the Channel Tunnel

Eurostar at dusk in St Pancras Station London
Eurostar at St Pancras.

Design Pics Inc/Getty Images 

Eurostar high speed trains provide a passenger rail link through the Channel Tunnel to the UK. Running since the mid 1990s, Eurostar's city center-to-city center connections makes it an easier and more and eco-friendly alternative to flying for travelers who want to:

  • avoid crowded airports
  • minimize time getting to and from airports
  • minimize their carbon footprint by reducing the number of short flights they take.
  • Enjoy a bit of European scenery on the way to the UK.

Eurostar from Paris

Trains from Paris Gare du Nord to the center of London take about 2 hours and 15 minutes. These high-speed trains also run direct to and from the Disneyland Paris Resort, just outside Paris, to London and to the Eurostar terminal at Ashford in Kent.

Other Eurostar Departure Points and Hubs for London

Eurostar has direct service between London and:

  • Brussels
  • Amsterdam
  • Lyon
  • Lille
  • Avignon

In ski season, Eurostar also runs a fast ski train to the French Alps.

All the Eurostar stations are linked to Europe's extensive rail network so it is easy to plan a train journey to or from the UK from practically anywhere in Europe - especially useful if you are touring Europe on a Eurail Pass.

  • From the US Check Eurostar prices and buy direct
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Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar to London St. Pancras International

Inside Eurostar
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Paris Gare du Nord is a main rail station in the heart of Paris.

Before you go

If you are traveling Standard, skip the dull Eurostar snack bar and buy picnic at a Paris deli before you get to the station.

At Paris Gare du Nord

It's a busy and confusing station. Look up and find the station clock. Eurostar departures in Paris Gare du Nord is in an upper level, glassed-in area behind the clock. Once you've spotted it, you'll have no trouble seeing the escalators that lead to the upper level.

If you haven't pre-booked, you can purchase tickets at the station. But remember, all Eurostar seats are reserved and during busy times of year - or day - you may not be able to get on the train you want without booking a Eurostar ticket in advance.

The formalities

You'll need your passport and, if you require it, your visa for the UK. You go through station security - much like airport security these days. Passport control as well as customs and immigration are handled at Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminal so that in the UK you just disembark and go. If you aren't an EU citizen, you will have to fill out a landing card that will be collected when you arrive in the UK.

Ed. Note: You may find longer queues and other immigration inconveniences after Brexit takes effect (now scheduled for October 31) but no one really knows what will happen then, so watch this space.

There's quite a long walk between check-in facilities and the trains at Paris Gare du Nord. If you need assistance let staff know.

On board Eurostar from Paris Gare du Nord

Seats in all classes are roomy and comfortable. Passengers in Business Premier and Leisure Select classes can have meals served at their seats.

When the train hits its max speed of 186 mph, an announcement is made. You'll hardly notice as the train is very steady and only reaches top speed in open country where there are few landmarks.

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How to Book and Buy Eurostar Online or with a Railpass to Save Money

Restoration on the massive vault of St. Pancras Station
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Book Eurostar tickets online because telephone booking, on +44 (0)8705 186 186, costs extra. You can also book Eurostar tickets at Eurostar terminals.

Savings for Rail Passholders

Touring Europe by train? Save quite a bit by buying a Eurostar ticket in conjunction with a rail pass. Britrail and Eurail passes, purchased through RailEurope in North America, include discounts on Eurostar. You can book Eurostar as soon as you become a passholder - and up to about four months in advance. You'll be quoted the best available price at the time. The earlier you do it, the better your chances of extra savings.

From the US Check Eurostar prices and buy direct.

Eurostar Travel Classes

You can buy Eurostar tickets in one of three travel classes:

  • Standard The most economical class. Standard tickets sell out quickly so book these Eurostar tickets in advance. Standard passengers must check in 30 minutes before departure. An extra economical standard fare is available for travel between midday and midnight on Mondays; anytime on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays; and between midday and midnight on a Saturdays.There is what Europeans refer to as a "buffet" facility which basically means a refreshment stand offering coffee, bottled and canned alcoholic and soft drinks and prepacked sandwiches and snacks.
  • Standard Premier The mid-priced category has more spacious carriages and a light meal, appropriate to the time of day, is served at your seat (on all direct services except EuroDisney). There are newspapers and magazines on board and power sockets for computers and games at your seat. Check in is 30 minutes before departure. Prices are substantially higher than standard and not really worth the extra cost unless you are really worried you might starve on the two hour and 15 minute trip.
  • Business Premier The most costly option has all the features that business travelers expect, including express 10-minute check-in and a breakfast option on early trains, business lounges with free wi-fi in London, Paris and Brussels, at seat dining - with a three course meal designed by Michelin-star chef Raymond Blanc, UK and European compatible power sockets at seats and optional chauffeur or taxi-booking service.