Lack of space at Eurostar terminals means ‘limited number of passengers’

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee together with the British Border Force carry out a passport control at Amsterdam Central. Photo: Ministry of Defence.

The Eurostar train runs from Amsterdam to London four times a day. According to the airline, the connection has “proven very popular with travelers.” However, Eurostar sees a capacity problem at the Dutch stations. At Amsterdam Central, for example, there is only room for 275 passengers, while Eurostar can accommodate no fewer than 894 passengers. “The current terminals ensure that the number of passengers is limited,” said Stefanie van Mierlo, spokesperson for Eurostar.

The terminals are an important part of the process, says Rob Hageman from NS International. “The travelers must of course be checked and must go through customs. Only then can you start boarding. It’s just the process. Travelers cannot just enter the platform, because then there will be travelers on the train who have not been checked at all.”

There is room for a maximum of 275 travelers in the Amsterdam terminal. Hageman says this number is about right. Eurostar does not answer this question.

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The current Eurostar terminal is located at track 15b in Amsterdam Central. Photo: NS

No dangerous situations

The latest Eurostar train can accommodate no fewer than 894 passengers. In reality, far fewer passengers board in the Netherlands, given the capacity of the terminals. However, Eurostar does not want to confirm that the limited capacity will affect the occupancy of the train. “We never give specific figures per route,” says Van Mierlo. “I can say that it is a very popular connection, which is why we have also increased the number of trains.

Hageman from NS International won’t believe it either. “At the moment it does not cause any dangerous situations in the terminals, maybe just a little less comfort.” Hageman cannot say whether fewer people will take the train because of the capacity problems. “I can’t see into the minds of the people who are making the decision. We can’t say that people are being pushed off the platform by the crowds, so to speak.”

Van Mierlo admits there is a capacity problem. “There is limited space and capacity in our current terminal in Amsterdam, which means that the number of passengers is limited.”

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In the terminal, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee carries out a passport control together with the British Border Force. Photo: Ministry of Defence.

Train or plane

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, together with Schiphol, ProRail KLM and NS, has drawn up an action plan to promote international train travel under 700 kilometres. ’14 percent of the number of aircraft movements from and to Schiphol go to six destinations: Brussels, Paris, London, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Berlin’, you can read in the action plan.

Every day, on average, between 49 and 55 flights depart from Amsterdam with London as the final destination. This corresponds to around 22,500 daily travellers. The ministry also sees enormous potential for the train. In the action plan, the parties write that approximately 1.9 million air journeys will be able to be replaced by the international train before 2030.

However, connecting to London is complicated for several reasons. About 10 percent of travelers from Amsterdam to London are transfer travelers. For this group, taking the train to London is not an option as it does not stop at Schiphol. In addition, train passengers to London must go through a passport and security check. A control that lasts longer since Brexit.

Last September, Eurostar added a fourth daily train between Amsterdam and London to the timetable. A further expansion of the road map is one of the plans. The ministry also sees a break in this. An increase in the frequency to six trains a day is being investigated. The capacity will then increase to 5,400 travelers per day. That figure is only wrong if not so many people can board in the Netherlands due to a lack of space in the terminals.

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The current Eurostar terminal in Amsterdam Central can accommodate up to 300 passengers. Photo: NS.

New terminal on the way

To solve the capacity problems, a relocation of the terminal in Amsterdam Central is planned. The terminal will move to the more spacious Amsterdam Zuid station. Travelers will not be able to board there until 2036 at the earliest. In the meantime, the terminal may move to a more spacious location in Amsterdam Central.

At the end of October, it was decided to build a temporary Eurostar terminal in the Amstelpassagen, located under the Central Station. Track 15b in the current terminal is to be renovated. The new terminal in Amstelpassagen has an area of ​​approximately 1,850 meters and provides the opportunity to double the capacity to 600 passengers.

“We are pleased with the confirmation of a larger space at the station in the Amstelpassagen,” says Van Mierlo. “This is a positive next phase for the route and will allow us to increase passenger flow to check-in and the train.”

However, it is highly uncertain whether the terminal in the Amstelpassagen will be ready in time. ‘The terminal in the Amstelpassagen will be ready sometime between 2024 and 2027’, writes Vivianne Heijnen in the decision memorandum. The State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management therefore wants the current small terminal on platform 15b to remain in use for as long as possible.

Previously, the necessary checks took place in Brussels, resulting in extra travel time. “We don’t want that anymore,” says ProRail spokesman Jeroen Wienen. “Our aim is that travelers in Amsterdam can go through all the checks and then travel directly to London. We will do everything we can to ensure that.” Rotterdam as the only boarding point in the Netherlands? That’s not an option either. The terminal in Rotterdam also suffers from a lack of space.

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