Bon Voyage

Security at St Pancras is pretty tight, considering that it’s just a train journey. Airline style scanners check people’s bags, but as far as free travel throughout the EU is concerned, the French customs man at the passport booth gives me a stereotypical shrug.

Compared with the rest of the station’s grandiose, the Eurostar waiting area is somewhat bland. It has the temperature, smell and atmosphere of a regional airport in desperate need of an upgrade. I’d like to show you a picture of this but you’ll have to wait, since I’ve been a complete klutz and left the gadget which connects my camera memory card with the iPad at home. If I think you’re worth it, I may buy a replacement in Lille.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of my ticket.

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The boarding process is cumbersome, not least because these trains have about 20 carriages. Long ones at that. I climb on board somewhere in Hertfordshire. Now don’t get me wrong, Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel are great feats of engineering. But like many train services, the rolling stock is showing its age.

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The carriages are getting a bit old and have a slightly cramped feeling about them. But these trains are, at least, electric – meaning a smooth ride through the glamour of East London and Ebbsfleet International.

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Yeah, baby, this is the life. Helpful announcements in no fewer than three languages from the train manager, Gilbert, remind passengers not to get off the train here – it’s only for boarding. If you want a romantic weekend in Ebbsfleet, you’ll have to go cattle class.

Update : Here’s the terminal at St Pancras

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