Fastest journey3hr 31m
It is an easy journey by train from London to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The journey usually 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 April 2018 when Eurostar launches a twice-daily direct train from London to Rotterdam, taking just three hours for a journey which crosses the territory of four countries (England, France, Belgium and Holland).
The city centre to city centre journey time undercuts air travel between London and Rotterdam. Apart from the new direct train and the route via Brussels, 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 all routes.
Bookings for your journey from London to Rotterdam normally open four 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 many all Brussels-bound Eurostar trains make an intermediate stop. Some trains make up to three additional stops – at Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais. From April 2018, Eurostar will introduce twice daily non-stop trains on the London to Brussels route, taking just 108 minutes for the 373km journey.
Eurostar trains from London 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. At Brussels Midi, there are good onward connections with a choice of Thalys or German ICE trains for direct links to Germany, as well as Belgian (or sometimes Dutch) Intercity trains to cities across the wider BeNeLux region.
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.