Eurostar ends deal allowing passengers to travel from London to Germany

At a time when more European travellers than ever appear to be keen to travel by rail rather than air, Eurostar is choosing to make life more difficult for passengers hoping to travel by train from the UK to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The cross-Channel train operator is ending its agreement with Deutsche Bahn that allows the German rail operator to sell a wide range of tickets between London and key business and leisure cities such as Cologne, Basel and Salzburg.

Using so-called “summated fares,” passengers take the train from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi, and change there to German high-speed trains.

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Prices start at under €60 (£51) one way for shorter trips, with tickets to Berlin, Munich and other more distant destinations for under €70 (£60). These are competitive with fares on British Airways, easyJet and Eurowings, the Lufthansa subsidiary.

Unlike some other connecting journeys, passengers travel on a single booking – making rescheduling straightforward in the event of disruption.

But direct tickets will no longer be sold from 9 November.

The German rail organisation said on social media: “Due to a system changeover at Eurostar, from 9 November, no direct tickets to London will be available.

“We work together with Eurostar for a solution.”

The move is likely to please the airlines, who are vulnerable to a switch from air to rail.

In 2018 Mark Smith, the international rail guru who founded the Seat61.com website, told The Independent that archaic railway rules deter passengers planning long-distance journeys. 

He called the latest move a “major setback” for train travel to Europe.

“This is a step backwards, more fragmentation, when operators need to work more together,” he said.

“But tickets likely to be more expensive and as tickets will be separate, no more through tickets, passenger rights are affected with less protection.

“The desire to travel more by train not plane is a grassroots movement which is coming from travellers themselves. In spite of train operators’ best attempts to prevent it.”

A spokesperson for Eurostar said: “We are unable to offer sales of the London Spezial through fare as we transfer to a new sales system.

“We are committed to this product range and we are working with Deutsche Bahn to resolve this.

“Customers can still purchase summated fares to Germany from Eurostar and DB sales channels in the interim.”

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