Fastest journey3hr 49m
It is an easy journey by train from London to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The journey starts with a high-speed run on Eurostar from London to Brussels Midi, where you change onto a Thalys or Intercity train for the onward journey over the Dutch border to The Hague. That will change in 2017 when Eurostar launches a direct service from London to Rotterdam.
The city centre to city centre journey time undercuts air travel between London and Rotterdam. There is an occasional alternative rail option from London to Rotterdam with a change at Lille Europe rather than Brussels Midi. The fare and total travel time are much the same on both routes.
Bookings for your journey from London to Rotterdam normally open three months prior to travel. This is an important business route, so fares increase quickly. It pays to book early if you are looking for a good deal.
London to Brussels
Board a Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Brussels. Little more than an hour after leaving London you’ll already be in northern France, speeding through Flanders fields towards Lille Europe, where almost all Brussels-bound Eurostar trains make an intermediate stop. Some trains make up to three additional stops – at Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais.
From Lille, it is just 35 minutes to Brussels, where Eurostar trains terminate at Brussels Midi station. Trains run every five minutes from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central (for the city centre). Your Eurostar ticket is valid for this short onward hop within Brussels.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar’s airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. This is a light-touch security scan, and there are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Brussels to Rotterdam
There are generally two trains each hour from Brussels to Rotterdam. All trains leave from Brussels Midi. One train each hour is an Intercity service which is comfortable but slow. It makes eight stops along the way including a very useful alternative Brussels pickup point at Brussels Central very close to the Grand Place in the heart of the city. This train also stops at Brussels National Airport.
The other hourly train on this route is a high-speed service operated by Thalys. It makes just one stop; that’s at Antwerp. The Thalys train takes 70 minutes for the run from Brussels Midi to Rotterdam Centraal. That’s an hour faster than the Intercity.
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Image credits: Luke Price