- Part 1: Cheap way to book your European train tickets
- Part 2: Ebbsfleet International Review
- Part 3: Eurostar London to Brussels Review, this blog article
- Part 4: Brussels Midi Station Review
- Part 5: Intercity Express (ICE) Brussels to Frankfurt Review
There is no direct train from London to Frankfurt; One need to use either Brussels or France as a transfer point to catch the German highspeed rail ICE to go to Frankfurt. It will take approximately 8.5 hours including connection time if we have chosen our train trip through Paris, France and only 6.5 hours including connecting time if we go through Brussels. So we ended up choosing our trip go through Brussels, Belgium.
The Eurostar train from St Pancras International arrived on time at the Ebbsfleet International station, and we had just two minutes to get into the train before the train departed for Brussels. Since we had six pieces of luggage, we were the last to board the train with all our luggage. A minute after we boarded the train the train doors were promptly closed the train started its move towards the English channel tunnel.
Boarding, Storing Baggages and Gets Settled on the Train
The approximate distance from London to Brussels is about 210 miles the Eurostar covers the distance in about 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Unlike Amtrak trains, there is no baggage check-in at the station and a separate baggage car for your pieces of baggage. You need to carry your luggage and store them in the coach you will be traveling. Eurostar allows everyone to bring two large pieces of baggage and a carryon. But no one checks whether you are carryon more than two pieces of luggage.
Because the Eurostar highspeed train stops only about two or three minutes in intermediate stops, it is not possible to have a baggage car and load them onto the train.
There are two large baggage storage areas right in front of the doors for a total of 4 storage area for four doors. Also, you have two small storage areas one at each end of the car inside the seating area, where you can keep your carryon or small baggage.
The baggage storage area will be full you may have to take the baggage to the other end of the car to place them. We did not find space for one of our bags, so I have to take it to another end of the car to store them. We kept our carry on luggage in the storage available inside the compartment.
Also, there was a storge available for small items right above the seats.
After getting seated my family went to sleep immediately. But being a train fan, I cannot hold my excitement, started checking out and taking the video of the rolling countryside.
At the time when we traveled the Eurostar was still running the older 3rd generation of Eurostar e300 train from London to Brussels compared to the latest 4th generation of Eurostar trains e320 from London to France. The seats are an old one, half of the seats were facing in the direction of train travel and the other half facing the opposite direction. I have heard the seats are excellent and comfortable in the new Eurostar 4th generation trains.
If you are traveling with your family, the middle seat will be the best seat as all the four seats face each other with a table in front of the seats.
After getting on the train, I found out you do not require a seat reservation. But the seat reservation is recommended to avoid family members sitting in different cars are different seats spread out throughout the cars.
Since the train is an older generation of Eurostar e300, there are no wifi, power socket or overhead monitors that show the landmarks currently passed by the train. So if you are traveling in the older generation of Eurostar for your internet connection, you have to depend on your phone wifi connection.
Recently I heard that Eurostar has started introducing the new generation Eurostar e320 on the London Brussels route. So if you are planning to take the Eurostar to Brussels some of the trains may be equipped with wifi and power sockets.
Since we left the station early morning, I did not have breakfast. The family was interested only in sleeping, and I walked towards the cafeteria car which was in the middle of the train.
The cafeteria car is similar to the one you will find on Amtrak Cascade trains. Just one person was managing the cafeteria. A standard set of the menu from which you can order your food.
I just ordered an orange juice and a hot oatmeal for my breakfast. Payment can be made using the credit card or cash (Pounds or Euro only)
Passing through the Euro Tunnel
When I was in the cafeteria car, the Eurostar passed through the station Ashford International. The train did not stop at the Ashford International station, the person who was in charge the cafeteria told me only the trains coming to London stops at the Ashford International station and just select Eurostar train stops during the outbound journey to Paris or Brussels.
About 10 minutes after passing the Ashford International station, the Eurostar entered the Channel Tunnel, and it takes about 25 minutes to pass through the tunnel. The Eurostar goes at an average speed of 160 m/ph right before it enters the tunnel. But in the tunnel, the speed is reduced to around 120 m/ph for safety reasons.
Traveling Through France
After going through the tunnel, the train rapidly emerged out of the tunnel in France and started picking up speed. As I had my mobile phone service with T-Mobile as soon as the train entered France, I got a text message “welcome to France” from T-Mobile with unlimited text and internet service availability.
The train came to a halt at Lille International station in France; this is the first stop in France where the Eurostar can either go towards Paris or Brussels.
The train stopped for two minutes some passengers got off the train, and the train picked up few passengers.
Arrival at Brussels South Midi Station
Approximately 30 to 40 miles from the Brussels station the trains reduces the speed to about 100 m/ph due to the fact the lines leading up to the Brussels stations are no high-speed lines, so train needs to reduce its speed to prevent an accident.
The train arrived at 12:40 PM local time without any delay. The Eurostar arrives at the upper level of the station, and we need to go down to the main concourse and again go to a different upper level to catch our train to Frankfurt.
Overall it was a lovely journey. I would consider the Eurostar journey to Brussels is better than catching a flight out of Heathrow or Gatwick. It would have taken us more time to go to the airport, pass through security, catch the flight, arrive at our final destination and collect our baggage upon arrival.
Moreover, on the day of departure, there was a dense fog most likely our flights would have been canceled and we would not have made the trip to Frankfurt.
If anyone is planning to travel to France or Germany or Belgium from London, I would highly recommend taking the trip using Eurostar instead of flying out of London.