Trains to London from Paris and Brussels are operating with up to 40-percent empty seats because passport officials are unable to cope.
About 350 out of 900 seats are regularly left unsold on the day’s first services, even though there is a huge demand for the greenest form of international travel, according to Eurostar officials.
Eurostar’s chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave said that since the travel transition period ended following Brexit, British passports have to be stamped separately and passengers are being told to arrive up to 90 minutes before some departures. However, even with such an early arrival, bottlenecks at stations still result in some passengers missing their departures.
Cazenave has run the Eurostar group since October last year, and has a UK work permit. “ I have a work permit, they know who I am – they ask: ‘What are you going to do in the UK?’. It takes almost 30 percent more time.”
She rules out re-introducing the popular London to France ski service or reinstating the Ashford stop until the situation at the major hubs can be solved.
The problem is likely to get much worse once the EU introduces its digital Entry and Exit protocol for third-country nationals, which includes British citizens, which has been delayed again from May until the end of this year.