Early Morning Trains to London and St Pancras International – Train vs Plane
In this… comparison.
- A Surreal Weekend Out
- Early Morning Virgin Trains and St Pancras International
- Eurostar ES9116 London St Pancras to Brussels Midi (Standard Premier)
- Crowne Plaza Le Place, Roiger, Brussels
- Enjoying time in Brussels and Leuven
- Off to Trainworld
- Back to Brussels Airport, British Airways Terraces Lounge
- BA399 Brussels National Airport to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- Heading back to Marylebone, and heading home
- Train vs Plane? Which wins in this round?
Beep beep beep. Oh yes. The joy of a beeping alarm. Must be time to grab my bag and head out of the front door.
At least I’m not on the very early morning train. I’m on the second train out of Birmingham to London Euston.
In cost terms, it’s costing me a whole £1 more to take a more convenient train. Or £9 in total. For £1 extra – I can be lazy.
As such, the train today isn’t a clapped out Virgin Voyager – instead, it’s a slightly tidied up Virgin Pendolino. Which is a little better for the world as it doesn’t spew out diesel fumes on a totally electrified route. Sadly, this train is more of a stopper, with stops at Birmingham International, Coventry, Milton Keynes Central and London Euston.
The Pendolinos are similar to Voyagers – in that there’s tight seat width, with a choice of airline and table seating.
You might want a table seat though – as these are the only seats which offer power at seat (a novelty when they were introduced – but becoming a more pressing need with mobile devices).
Nonetheless, this thing can tilt and go at 125mph once it gets onto the West Coast Main Line, and that’s what it did – racing down to the West Coast Main Line to London. On schedudle – the train arrived at Euston Station .
By 07:35, I was off the train and ready to start the stopwatch.
For today’s timing in Train vs Plane, we’re going to use the hammer to the nut method – from depature at Euston Station to entering the PreMetro station at Brussels Midi. We’re going to use this method on the way back, as it is an end-to-end journey.
But back to getting between Euston and St Pancras
If you are totally lazy, you could take the underground between Euston and St Pancras International, but I would question your sanity. Even if you have luggage, I’d still question your sanity.
Allegedly, it’s 9 minutes on the tube. If you take a taxi, it’s 8 minutes through London traffic. Or 8 minutes on a bus
Or 8 minutes walk to go 0.4 of a mile… or just over 600 metres.
At least I was semi-lazy and I coughing like I had caught a bug – I decided to catch the bus – which drops you right in front of the entrance/exit for St Pancras International.
I got off the bus and headed into – architecturally speaking – one of the more impressive stations in the United Kingdom – St Pancras International. And of course, I didn’t just approach via the concourse level – I came in in the tradition entrance.
Now before we begin, and for Film Harry Potter fans – this is Kings Cross Station.
This is where you’ll find 1) The trolley stuck in the wall, 2) The Harry Potter Shop, and if you’re not a muggle – the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4.
Do not confuse it for St Pancras station – which was used in the movies as it was more architecturally more impressive. Which – it is.
I spent some time wandering around St Pancras – mainly heading to Boots to get cold and flu medication.
With that in hand, I headed back to the Eurostar Check-in area
Eurostar has been a long-standing user of self-check-in devices, so it’s a matter of scanning your ticket and proceeding through.
Once you’re through that hurdle comes the fun part – security.
Thankfully, unlike airport security – you don’t have to put your liquids in a bag. Rather, you just keep them in your bags.
And that applies to laptops. Heck. This makes travel almost civilised.
With the baggage scan done, comes the wonder of juxtapositioned borders – so I would be exiting the United Kingdom here and entering the Republic of France. This is handled by a lovely bunch of eBorders machines… that do something rather odd.
That’s right. They actually work every time I’ve used them . Unlike others, at a certain UK Border Agency I can mention.
With the formalities complete, I was in the general waiting pen underneath the platforms. And sadly, this is where one has to cool one’s heels for a bit until the train is ready for boarding.
There’s no lounge included in Standard Premier. If we’re going to take an airline view of it (and Eurostar has always seemed to act more like an airline than a train company):
- Standard – Economy Class with an assigned seat in a 2-2 formation. Pay for food and drink
- Standard Premier – Think Premium Economy. Uses the Business Class seating in a 2-1 formation, with a light meal included
- Business – the joy of a 10-minute check-in window, lounge access and a three-course meal
Thankfully, there are lots of seating options – including seat options with power outlets. Plenty enough to stick to earbuds in and melt away for a while.
There are some bar seating where one can plug-in electronics to the mains if you need to charge. However, for the time I was in the waiting lounge, it made no difference to me. The departure lounge was crowded – and as such can hold a couple of trains worth of people. Any more, and it gets uncomfortable.
Around 8:35, boarding was called for the train was made to go up to the platform. I took my leave of the departures lounge and found a travelator.
I joined the masses and up to the waiting Eurostar to Brussels.
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