29 March 2019. On this fateful day the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will leave the European Union. What will happen to the Eurostar and by extension ferry services and air traffic?
We are publishing this on 17 January 2019 at 3.01 AM. Who knows what will happen between that moment and 29 March? But as it stands now, disruptions to the service are very likely.
The situation reminds Danny and I to the Phoney War or Drôle de guerre between 3 September 1939 and the start of the Blitzkrieg on 10 May 1940. Or if you don’t know your history, the time between your last exam at school and proclamation, where you you’ll hear you have failed. Yet you can’t do anything about it.
Anyway. “If there’s no deal, Eurostar trains will stop running”, De Standaard quotes a government source in an article about the Belgian federal government preparing Belgium for a no-deal Brexit. As Steve and I plan to go to London in April, this isn’t a fun prospect.
So what is the problem? Licenses. Eurostar train run on a British license. A no-deal Brexit means the end of the recognition of this British license in France and Belgium.
That is a major problem. Eurostar could get separate Belgian and French licenses for its rolling stock, its train drivers and train guards (or train managers as they are called). But in 70 something days?
Yet there’s optimism. Eurostar keeps advertising on Instagram and Facebook. The Local France just advises you to get a separate travel insurance.
Railway Technology quotes the Eurostar press team: “We are having constructive conversations with the governments on Brexit and will continue to do so. At this point in time, we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit.” Click here for the full article.
Disappointingly, the Eurostar media centre web page remains silent on the issue.
Delays or no delays, that is the question
On Wednesday 16 January prime minister Theresa May (Conservatives) has declared there will be no delay on Brexit. No pushback to May or June.
But delays can be expected on Eurostar if certain questions won’t be answered. Will the the trains run? Will identity and baggage control be more strict? Do you need to carry a passport instead of an identity card? Do you need to apply for a visa?
Probably it will turn out allright. But in theory every official relationship relating movement of people and goods is reset to zero.
One other thing
Don’t forget that on 29 March, the EU data roaming agreement will no longer apply on the UK. Beware of your mobile phone bill!