Eurostar Vs Eurolines

In a previous post I’ve discussed my thoughts on Eurostar Vs Flying as a means of getting to/from the UK. In it, I came to the conclusion that Eurostar was the better option, although flying does definitely have it’s advantages. But it got me thinking… what about the other options available? When it comes to getting to/from mainland Britain, there are more than two options. The next one I wanted to delve into was the Eurolines coach service. Seeing as Eurostar came out tops in my last debate, I thought I’d do a direct comparison.

Price

If you are based in or near to the London area then it is possible to travel very cheaply on the Eurostar if you book far enough in advance, or get a promotional deal. I myself have been able to get the London – Paris jaunt for £19 in the past during the off-peak season in January. However, where the problem with price lies is when you are coming from somewhere outside of London. Eurostar only run trains from London to Paris and Brussels. They often offer quite cheap prices for these jaunts, and it is possible to buy some connecting journeys from other main stations in the UK via their website, however the price to travel by rail in the UK is often much more expensive than it is to travel the same distance or more out of Britain. So for instance, when I book a Eurostar train on most occasions I am travelling to or from Edinburgh, as that’s where I live when I’m not travelling. If I was to go completely by rail from Edinburgh to Paris, I can book that via the Eurostar website. On most occasions the cheapest price I can find for what is about a 6.5 hour journey is around £65 one way. Of course, Eurostar does not actually operate the Edinburgh to London rail line, they are merely offering an add on service to book your tickets together, so it may be unfair to judge them on this particular journey, but when you compare it to Eurolines who regularly offer one way journeys from Edinburgh to Paris for £40, that’s a £15 saving. What you do have to weigh up however is whether you are willing to pay an extra £15 or more for the comfort of a train vs a bus, which is an important consideration. However on price alone, Eurolines usually wins for me personally, but as I said, this may be different if you are based in the London area.

Comfort

Anyone who has travelled by coach and travelled by train in the western world will already know that train travel is almost always more comfortable than a long distance bus journey. Looking at Eurostar and Eurolines in particular, there is no change here. In fact, I’d go as far to say that Eurostar is more comfortable than your typical train. The seats are shaped so you can rest your head without having to put it on the cold window, there are larger fold down tables, larger foot rests, little bins beside each set of seats, more room in the isles, and more extra room for luggage outside the main seated carriages. There is also all the other standard things you would expect on a train anyway.The Eurolines bus is pretty standard for long distance coaches – you get a reclining seat, and foot rest. There is a toilet usually available on board, but for anyone who has used one of these types of toilets you get on a bus, they are always a very unpleasant, stuffy, hot place to do the toilet (this is not just with Eurolines but with any bus operator I have been on).

Having gone through the Channel tunnel on a Eurostar train, and through it on a Eurolines bus, I can honestly say the experience on the train was much more pleasureable! For a start, you could see out of the window into the side of the tunnel. Sounds silly as you’re only seeing a wall, but with the bus it has to go into a special bus type train. You can’t physically get off the bus while you are on it, there are no windows on it, and the heat inside it makes the bus uncomfortably hot and stuffy. This has happened to me on all 3 occasions I used Eurolines via the Channel Tunnel. It really wasn’t a pleasant experience, and actually made me feel a bit claustrophobic (which isn’t like me at all, as I’m usually fine in most small spaces). The Eurostar experience through the tunnel wasn’t stand out or anything, but it did at least have a nice cool temperature, you could see out the windows at all times, and you had much more freedom to get up and walk about or space to move in your seat even if it did make you feel uncomfortable going under the tunnel. Eurostar therefore wins by a mile for comfort.

Speed

The Eurostar takes approximately 2 hour 30 minutes to get from London St Pancras to Paris Nord train station. St Pancras is right in the centre of London, and Paris Nord is fairly central too. The Eurolines bus takes takes approximately 6 hours 15 minutes. Victoria Coach Station is right in the city centre, and Paris Gallieni is a bit further out of the main city centre area. Even disregarding the fact that Paris Nord is more central than Paris Gallieni, Eurostar wins hands down for speed, and getting you to your destination sooner.

Service

As far as the service I received from staff, I found both to be very good. However, for me (and this was a surprise as usually the budget transport option gives worse service in all my other experiences), but Eurolines actually gives a better service in my opinion. The reason I say this is that back in October when I had my passport and all my money stolen in Amsterdam, I had to travel back home with only my open return Eurolines ticket and with no identification documents, which I wrote about in a previous post. Long story short however, one phone call to Eurolines and they were able to get me on a bus last minute back home. They also let me travel without any identification (as it had been stolen and there was problems getting it from the consulate in Amsterdam), helped me locate and fill out the correct forms for entry to the UK without a passport, and also waited for me at the Channel Tunnel customs while it took an extra 15 – 20 minutes to sort out. On the other hand, a couple I had met whilst in the consulate who had something very similar happen (only they were able to get replacement passports), and were travelling with Eurostar, were told that because their ticket was taken in the handbag that was stolen, and even though they had a receipt, credit card statements, and proof of identity to prove they paid for it, they were told they would have to buy another ticket full price if they wanted to use their return for the same train, on the same day, in the same seats. I thought this was pretty appalling considering they could prove they’d paid for it, and they had been robbed after all. To be fair to Eurostar though, everytime I have used them personally I have never had bad service. In fact, I always describe the checking in process there as very fast and efficient, but based on the experiences I had with Eurolines, and witnessed with the couple in the UK consulate in Amsterdam, I have to say Eurolines comes out on top for service.

– So what do you think? In my comparison Eurostar comes out top on comfort and speed. Eurolines comes out top on price and service. I think what it comes down to it  however, when there is a tie like this, it really comes down to how much of a difference in price is there?For most people, the price is what sways them one way or the other. For a budget traveller, that £15 saving could probably buy them over a weeks worth of food if they’re buying it out of a budget supermarket, but for other people they may think that the saving is just too small to justify sitting on an uncomfortable bus for an extra 3 or 4 hours.Although a budget backpacker myself, I actually consider myself to be in the latter. Unless there is something along the lines of a £30 or £40 + saving, I’m always going to choose the speedier and more comfortable option, but that is something I’ve begun to do as I’ve got older. At 18 I would have always went for the cheaper option and not cared, but even at the youthful age of 22, even I am get tired of travel by coach, and only do it when there is a considerable saving to be made.

4 Responses to “Eurostar Vs Eurolines”

  1. Harneet says:

    Thanks a ton for this!! honest feedback

    I am planning to do a backpack from paris to london this september!

    Was somewhat late in the bookings so the cost difference between Eurostar and Eurolines is a whopping EUR 100 for me!! what do u suggest??
    Should i go in for Eurolines or Eurostar’s comfort? given i have a fixed 7 days to cover both cities!

    Reply awaited.. thanks!

    Cheers,
    Harneet

    (India)

  2. Herman Roovers says:

    Very good article. I also used both options and I prefer the Eurostar. A few times we had serious delay at the French border near the tunnel cause the customs searched all over the bus looking for drugs. And to be honest, not to discriminate, a lot of “strange” people were in the bus. Which made the customs more alert. But the price of Eurolines is allright!!!

  3. Herman Roovers says:

    Great article/review. When I travelled with Eurolines there was a possibilty to leave the coach while travelling through the tunnel bus Obvious this has changed? Your article decided me to travel by train (again). Thanks a lot

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply