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Why taking the Eurostar through the Chunnel is worth the extra expense

Traveling by Eurostar between Europe and Britain is very convenient since it bypasses all the hassle of getting to and from airports. The overall journey is shorter and more pleasant.

Eurostar connects Brussels South with St. Pancras station in London, stopping once in France and once in Britain between these end destinations. Getting to Brussels South in Belgium by train is included in the price of your Eurostar ticket although there is no equivalent benefit in England.

Since both the Eurostar Brussels station and St. Pancras have both been remodeled it is a pleasure to board and alight and go on your way. Both have been modeled on the best airport facilities with small shops, restaurants and all the facilities.

Indeed the journey on Eurostar itself is much like flying. I traveled from Brussels to London in Leisure Select class, which is equivalent to traveling first. There is also a Leisure Select business in which businessmen can meet and/or work. That costs a little more. There is also a standard class that is somewhat cheaper.

In Brussels you pass both Belgian and British immigration services on the way out and coming back I passed through British and French immigration services, even though Britain is part of the European Union. That surprised me but added to the international flavor of this train.

On board Leisure Select you are met by the cabin attendant and conducted to your reserved seat. Mine was a single seat on one side of a large aisle, which was comparable to a business-class seat in a good plane except that there were no seat belts. That felt a little odd.

During the journey I was served a breakfast in one direction and lunch in the other. These were both excellent meals, well cooked and hot with all the trimmings and good wine. They were equivalent to first-class plane meals before the airlines had to start economizing.

Travel itself was very fast and the journey interesting except that the Chunnel’ is merely a long tunnel. The one thing, on my journey, that brought the real meaning of the Chunnel to mind is that the train was delayed for an hour on the French side because an unauthorized person had been found on an earlier train in the Chunnel. That delay, however, rarely occurs. We saw more of the Chunnel train sidings and work facilities on the British side.

From France, open flat farm country is left behind, while emerging into England, the countryside changes to that of Kent’s undulating green. In a plane you would have seen nothing of that between identical plane tarmac landing strips.

Furthermore, I would have landed far from London at Heathrow making subsequent travel difficult. In passing, I should add that any mode of travel that avoids Heathrow is worth any cost since Heathrow is undoubtedly the worst airport that it has been my displeasure to visit. That alone makes the small additional cost of the Eurostar worthwhile.

As a postscript, I should mention that this was not my only visit to the Chunnel. During construction, before Eurostar existed, I was able to enter from the English side and travel to the center of the Chunnel by small work train. There I could see the work of the tunnel being clad with concrete. I was nice to return as a passenger.