Eurostar passes Stratford International - CC / Flickr
Eurostar passes Stratford International - CC / Flickr

Scandal! The new Stratford International station might well not have any international trains stopping there. Among others the Mayor of Newham and investors building a shopping centre at Stratford are up in arms, as reported by the Evening Standard.

Actually it’s no scandal. It’s just sensible. And I say this as a Eurostar frequent traveller who, when in London, lives 1 stop on the Underground from Stratford.

Think about it. Every stop on Eurostar requires a 700 tonne, 18 carriage train, slowing down from 200+ km/h to a stop, using loads of energy to re-accelerate, and for each stop adding about 8 minutes to the journey time. Add to this that very very few passengers ever get on or off Eurostar at Ebbsfleet or Ashford as it is and the notion of Eurostars stopping at Stratford, just 7 minutes from St Pancras, is crazy.

Here’s an alternative solution. Why not have a Southeastern Highspeed service set off from St Pancras 20 minutes ahead of a Eurostar, and let that collect passengers at Stratford and Ebbsfleet and stop at Ashford. Then a large number of Eurostar trains would stop at Ashford and collect Stratford, Ebbsfleet and Ashford passengers there. It would surely be possible to coordinate timetables and tickets to make that work rather easily? Problem solved, surely?

16 Comments

  1. Simpel solution to that one, Gareth: rename it “Stratford”.

  2. Gareth Roberts

    If you don’t want Eurostars stopping at Ebbsfleet or Stratford, then restart the services from London Waterloo as it is much easier to get to from the South Coast, with a change at Clapham Junction if coming from Sussex as it guaranteed that services would stop at Ashford, I know it takes longer, but it could work. Otherwise if that doesn’t work, then Stratford should be made a stop for the Eurostar as people don’t want to have to pay for a train ticket between Stratford and St Pancras, when they have a station with Eurostar services in their area, it seems ridiculous Jon that you should say that it is good that Eurostar don’t stop at Stratford, of course it’s a good idea otherwise it wouldn’t be called Stratford International. Get your facts right Jon

  3. Paul Ebbens

    Stratford International and Ebbsfleet International is proof that the UK has no real plan for railway development. Neither should’ve been named International, just ‘Hi-Speed’ or the like.

    I don’t blame Eurostar not wanting to stop at Stratford due to the extra 7/8 minutes and the passenger numbers. In some respects I wish they’d drop Ebbsfleet for the same reasons. Two enormous shopping centres, two ‘white elephant’ railway stations…

    There was absolutely nothing wrong with using Ashford International as the ‘Kent’ hub. It was more economical for many reasons and is linked by many different services.

    As for the notion that Stratford Int’l would be used for ‘through services’, we’ve had this discussion hundreds of times before… it doesn’t work due to the Immigration/Customs checks required when crossing the Schengen border. And anyway why would you want to go to Stratford Int’l when you want to go to northern England, it is a hub to connect to Eastern England (which I live in).

    Logic there is none.

  4. Robin Stichbury

    Why build and name “Stratford International” in the first place when there was never an intention from the earliest days for International Eurostar trains to stop there? I often wonder who the idiot was who declared the name “Stratford City” for the Olympic area – after an American fashion – this is the UK and tradition dictates there must be a Cathedral before it can be declared a City.

  5. Tom Charles

    Being a local resident, I feel it is an insult to local people that some much money spent has been spent on this redundant station and not invested into the local community. It’s just one of the many things surrounding this so-called ‘games for the community’ that is such a waste of public money.

  6. “I want to know why there is an Ashford terminal, i.e. a stop in the middle of nowhere.”

    Erm, really? As someone from Ashford it might not be the most pleasant or historical place, but in terms of transport it’s way more important than Stratford. Why does Stratford need international trains when St Pancras and Ebbsfleet are 5 mins either way (granted as others have pointed out Ebbsfleet is a white elephant)? Ashford has good links to the rest of East Kent (Canterbury, Folkestone, Dover etc) as well as East Sussex and Brighton. By removing Eurostar services even more from Ashford you’ll be forcing a lot of people to go up to London only to go back where they’ve already come from.

  7. Ebbsfleet station is a nonsense, as far as I can see it exists only to serve Bluewater shopping centre and even then the public transport links between the two are pretty dire. The pressure to get people to use Ebbsfleet just doesn’t seem to be working (and some that do are doing so because the Eurostar stops so infrequently at Ashford and they then have to get trains back along the route from Ebbsfleet to Ashford!).
    Fewer people seem to use it than Ashford which, by contrast is a thriving, growing town with a real centre and personality, well connected to other parts of Kent and the southeast and with relatively cheap land and business lets to attract inward investment…
    Stratford is effectively in the wrong place – a pain to get to from Canary Wharf at the moment (the bus service around the building site is irregular and often delayed meaning that the HS1 service gets missed), but even once the shopping centre is in place, it is still less convenient for the city gents than actually locating it at Canary Wharf would have been.
    That said, after the nonsense of withdrawing the Ashford Brussels service (happily now reinstated), you’d think that they’d learn about the importance of the transport network to local regeneration projects…

  8. Keith Schrod

    Jon, you are absolutely right. The option to use the Kent High Speed service should be a free add on to Eurostar tickets and use either Ebbsfleet or Ashford to connect to the Eurostar. Stratford International will never be used for Eurostar, the numbers don’t make sense. And like you, I am close to Stratford, passing through there every day on the way to work and, working for the French, am a regular Eurostar user. At the moment there is an erratic service at Ebbsfleet and Ashford, centralise on one of them and use connecting services.
    I have to say, isn’t Stratford International the grimmest station ever? It’s like being in a concrete tomb.

  9. And one more point (and that’s the last word on it I promise) I am convinced that people working in the City of London – which drives the whole of the UK economy and the European financial markets – would much prefer to be able to travel to the continent from Stratford which a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf than King’s Cross. Not only was the Eurostar stopping here suppose to attract new business and jobs for one of the most deprived areas in the UK, it would have also boosted the City’s relationship with EU business. Eurostar’s decision os short sighted and I am proud that East London has people like Robin Wlaes to sitck up for us. Eurostar will have to back down on this eventually if they are going to rescue their reputation in the most up-and-coming area of London. That’s it. Rant over!

  10. Who says they wouldn’t have travelled on it, Jon? I am an example of someone who lives here and travelled to Brussels frequently as you very well know!

  11. “I think the notion that anything except a tiny number of Eurostar trains would ever stop at Stratford was pie in the sky stuff from the start”. Pie in the sky or not, that’s what was promised and promises should not be reneged on. It now looks ridiculous to have a stattion called Stratford International. Local people will feel extremely duped.

  12. Yes, but those are the same local people who would not have actually traveled on the thing in sufficient numbers to make it viable… so duped, yes. But it’s still the right choice for Eurostar to not stop there.

  13. Just can’t agree with you on this. The only reason Eurostar was given permission to go through this area was because they promised local investment. This is a complete betrayl of East London. Discussion on this tbc.

  14. What a load of rubbish, verging on NIMBYism.

    The line is in a tunnel except 200m at Stratford, it has brought jobs at the depot close to Leyton, the high speed line gives a quick connection to Kings Cross and to Kent from the area. That’s all *much* more important than Eurostar stopping there.

    I think the notion that anything except a tiny number of Eurostar trains would ever stop at Stratford was pie in the sky stuff from the start. The economics and geography of it don’t work.

    Sorry but Eurostar is an international service, and we don’t need international services stopping in Zone 3 of London Transport.

  15. robert

    I want to know why there is an Ashford terminal, i.e. a stop in the middle of nowhere.

  16. Ashford is a proper city. Ebbsfleet for sure isn’t…

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