- Part 1: Cheap way to book your European train tickets
- Part 2: Ebbsfleet International Review, this blog article
- Part 3: Eurostar London to Brussels Review
- Part 4: Brussels Midi Station Review
- Part 5: Intercity Express (ICE) Brussels to Frankfurt Review
Last December we took a trip to London, UK as our connecting flight is out of Frankfurt we had two options one take a flight to Frankfurt from London or the other take the Eurostar and ICE train to Frankfurt. Since I am a big fan of trains, ever since the Eurostar was launched in the early 90’s I wanted to travel in Eurostar from London to Paris.
Later we realized taking the train to Frankfurt was a wise decision, because London was hit with a dense fog and flights were canceled as well rescheduled for four days.
There are two options to catch the Eurostar train in London option one is to catch the train from St Pancras Internation train station which is in central London or option two is to catch the train from the Ebbsfleet Internation train station.
St Pancras International Station
If you are staying close to Central London or you can reach St Pancras International station within 30 minutes of where you are staying getting onto Eurostar from St Pancras will be one of the best options. If you are carrying very light pieces of baggage, you can use the London Tube system and get down at the Kings Cross metro stop and go a couple of level up and arrive at the St Pancras International station.
Pros of catching Eurostar from St Pancras
- Lots of restaurants for you to eat food before you catch the train.
- Conveniently located in central London with lots of options to get to the station.
- A 10 to 15 minute boarding time will be given for getting into the train.
- Easy access from Kings Cross tube station.
Cons of catching Eurostar from St Pancras
- Long walk from the front of the station to the passport check area.
- Traffic to central London will prevent you from getting into the station on time assuming you are coming from outside of central London
- A lot of crowds at the Passport control and security check because several trains going to Paris and Brussels.
- Some time long lines for getting inside the coach.
Getting into Ebbsfleet International Train Station
Before we booked the ticket, I was checking with my brother in law which station is the best to get into Eurostar train for travel to Frankfurt. Since we were planning to stay with him, he advised us it is better to get the train from Ebbsfleet as traveling to St Pancras will be difficult from northeastern suburb due to traffic as we will be leaving for Frankfurt on a weekday.
Since we will be coming from the North East area of London, it was easy for us using M25 to reach Ebbsfleet International station. The Ebbsfleet International station is in the South East part of London compared to Saint Pancras International station which is in Central London.
Concern about catching the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet International
The Eurostar starts from St Pancras, so if we catch the train in St Pancras, we will have anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to board the train. The Eurostar stops in Ebbsfleet only for about 2 minutes I had a concern is it possible to get on board with six pieces of luggage with the family.
I went to the Eurostar website and had a chat with one of the representative and asked about my concern. He said as per schedule it is only 2 minutes stop at the station, and told me not to worry the train will not start until all the passengers are on board.
I was assured after the Eurostar representative told me I would not miss the train. But still, I always had 1% of doubt in my mind. But the uncertainty got cleared when I went to the train station to catch the train.
Arriving at Ebbsfleet International
We started from home around 6:00 AM as it will take like an hour to reach the train station. Also, the early morning fog was nasty with very poor visibility on the road. The fog issue lasted for three more days and leading to the cancellation of flights in and out of London.
The Ebbsfleet International train station was modeled after an airport with plenty of parking as well as curbside drop off and pickup, my brother in law dropped us on the curbside and left. Unlike St Pancras, we can immediately reach the passport control and ticket check. After the ticket and passport check, we were allowed to proceed to the security.
The security check is not very strict like the one at the airport, but we have to send all of the luggage through the x-ray machine, and we need to go through the metal detectors to clear the security. Right after security two local cop took our passport, stamped the passport and allowed us to go to the boarding area.
Right above all the tracks (platform), there was a boarding area. We were not allowed to proceed to the platform, and the attendant told us we would be called before the train arrives and we will have plenty of time to go to the platform to board the train.
The boarding contained general seating area as well as a first class lounge area for the first class passengers. The general seating area had one newspaper shop, a cafe, and an information booth.
The boarding area was not crowded, there was a train to Paris which was arriving 60 minutes before our train. The attended called for passengers to board the Paris train they all left the boarding hall through the escalator or elevator to catch the train.
After they left only about 9 or 10 families sitting in the boarding area to catch the Brussels train. The Eurostar does not directly go to Frankfurt, and we need to switch to German high-speed Intercity Express (ICE) train from Brussels to go to Frankfurt.
Five minutes before the arrival of our train from St Pancras we heard an announcement that we need to proceed to one level down for boarding the train. The person who helped us at the passport control came down with all of us, I asked him whether we will have enough time to catch the train. He said his primary job is to make sure everyone get on board before he signals the train engineer that the train is ready for departure.
Platform and Coach Number
All of our tickets had a coach number and the seat number, and the platform was marked with the coach number. As we got out of the elevator the train arrived promptly; unfortunately, we have to get past about 6 or 7 coaches to arrive at the position to board our coach. As we had lots of baggage, we are the last one to get on board the coach.
Since the train had already arrived as we got out of the elevator, we were in a hurry and not able to take a picture of the train standing on the platform or the platform displaying the coach number.
The train stopped for about 2 to 3 minutes, and we had plenty of time to get on board the train. A minute after we got on board the train door closed and the train departed for Brussels.
Ebbsfleet is a very nice station with easy access to the station from London freeways. Since it is a small station compared to St Pancras the time it takes you to arrive at the boarding hall from the drop area is only 5 to 7 minutes.
Pros of catching Eurostar from Ebbsfleet International
- A short walk from Parking Area/Curb to the train check-in counter/boarding area.
- Located outside of central London
- Small station with less crowded.
Cons of catching Eurostar from St Pancras
- No easy access from Tube station. If you are planning to take the tube to catch your train, St Pancras is your best bet.
- Short boarding time, this may not be an issue as the ground staff makes sure everyone get on board before the train starts.