|Trip Report by Jishnu Mukerji|
By Jishnu Mukerji, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I travelled by Eurostar 9052 from London Waterloo to Paris Gare du Nord on the 5th of April, 1995. This particular train was introduced on the 3rd of April as a daily service and is the 18:53 departure from London scheduled to arrive in Paris at 22:52. Before this week it used to be a Sunday only service for a couple of Months.
I had purchased my ticket through Rail Europe in the USA by calling 1-800-EUROSTAR, so I did not have to go through the trouble of purchasing a ticket at Waterloo.
Checking in at Waterloo was all automatic. One just feeds the ticket into the ticket reader adjacent to automatic gates. In a moment the display next to the gate shows that you can go, which you do after collecting your ticket from the ticket reader, and you are all checked in. It took me just a minute to check in and proceed to the security check area, where I was waved through. There is this huge waiting area with many stores one level below the platform, where all checked in passengers are supposed to wait until their train is ready for boarding.
Boarding started about 30 minutes before departure. It was no problem finding the carriage (11) and the seat. At the door of the carriage I was greeted by a Eurostar stewerdess who helped me locate my seat. My rollaboard and Laptop bag both fit nicely on the luggage rack above my seat. So I pulled out my newly acquired set of various British railway magazines and settled down for the ride.
The First Class cars have 2+1 seating, some face to face across a table and others airline style. I had a forward facing window seat on the 2 side in a face to face setup. The seat next to me was vacant. The seat diagonally across from me was occupied by a gentleman who missed his flight and chose to try the Eurostar. The seat across from me was vacant.
The train pulled out of Waterloo right on time 18:53 accelerating imperceptibly. It proceeded very slowly through Vauxhall with several local trains overtaking us. Then at International Jct. it veered off from the main line to Clapham Jct., over and across it on a flyover onto the Chatham line out of Victoria, and proceeded to speed up some. At this point Orange Juice and/or Champaigne was served, and the dinner menu was handed out.
It took about 40 minutes to get to Tonbridge, and then another 23 minutes to Ashford International where a new station is under construction for trains to Europe. The ride was very smooth, much smoother than on a Network SouthEast (or whatever they are called these days) trains Dollands Moore was another 12 minutes away, where the train changes power supply from 750 VDC 3rd rail to 25kV AC overhead. The chageover took place smoothly and there was no flickering of lights or anything suggestive of the changeover.
By the time we got to Dollands Moor dessert and cheese was being served. The fish entree in the dinner was quite good, as was the good French wine served with it. As I dug into my cake there was an announcement in English and then in French about the imminent entry into the tunnel, which we entered in another minute at 20:09. We were in the tunnel just short of 20 minutes and emerged in France under bright Sodium lamps, passing Calais-Frethun station in another two minutes. By this time I was working on my cup of coffee.
At this point things got much smoother and quiter and the quality of sound changed and it was obvious that we were moving much much faster. An announcement soon followed, now first in French and then in English "Our driver has just informed me that we are now travelling at our top speed of 187 miles per hour" or something to that effect. We slowed down a bit to pass through Lille Europa at 21:54 and then went right back upto top speed past the Fretin triangle. It was fun zipping by cars and trucks on the paralle autoroute as if they were standing still. But this was not to last for too long. At 22:41 we were already at Villiers-le-Belle-Gonesse (excuse the spelling) where the LGV Nord joins the classic line just outside of Paris. We continued on at a brisk clip until we got to St. Denis at 22:43. There was still 11 minutes to go before scheduled arrival time at Gare du Nord. The train slowed down considerably and practically crawled the last kilometer or three past the Le-Landy TGV and Eurostar depot to arrive at Gare du Nord three minutes ahead of schedule at 22:49, London to Paris in 2 hours and 56 minutes!
The journey was completely routine and devoid of any memorable events, other than of course imperceptibly passing under the English Channel and zipping across the plains of Flandres and Picardie into Paris in great comfort. I think I have flown for the last time between London and Paris. Now onwards it will always be the Eurostar!__________________________________________________________ Some passing times: London Waterloo d. 18:53 Clapham High St. 19:02 Sydenham Hill 19:08 Bromley South 19:15 Petts Wood 19:18 Orpington 19:20 Seven Oaks 19:27 Tonbridge 19:33 Ashford Intl. 19:56 Dolands Moor 20:08 Chunnel entry 20:09 British crossover 20:15 - - change in time zone - - - - French crossover 21:22 Chunnel exit 21:28 Calais-Frethun 21:30 300km/h announcement 21:42 Lille Europa 21:54 Gonesse 21:40 St. Denis 22:43 Le-Landy depot 22:45 Paris Gare du Nord a. 22:49