We will be flying into London in early June and taking the Eurostar to Paris a week later. Can anyone who has recently taken this train ride tell us what security measures were in place at the London end? I just read an article in the New York Times yesterday that states that the threat level in Britain remains "severe", meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely" based on new information from the arrests made in Brussels in the past few days. Can anyone tell us if backpacks and luggage are being inspected at St. Pancras station? We also have separate train rides to Stratford, Gloucester and Bath scheduled during our stay in London. Does anyone know if additional security measures are been taken at London railway stations? We are still committed to our trip but want to be careful where we can. We are considering taking a flight to Paris instead and perhaps renting a car for day trips outside of London. Many thanks.
We took the Eurostar from Paris Nord to London last July. All our luggage went through the x-ray machine. They noticed my chef knife and had me show it to them. They told me that the knife is not allowed but they let me keep it anyway with a warning not to bring one again.
Why the knife? We were on a three-month holiday, staying in holiday flats. We have always brought sharp knives with us because I do a lot of cooking. I am rethinking that now, the knife I mean.
If you are considering a flight to Paris, rather than the train, you must be convinced that airports are safer than trains and stations. There are no assurances these days so best not to obsess about it. Just go on your trip and have a good time. As for security on trains in the UK, I guess you never travelled in England when the IRA was the cause of security measures. The Brits have lived through all this before.
Eurostar has always had this level of security, unlike most other trains in Europe, and that's the reason that you're required to check in early, also unlike most trains. I think JustTravel got lucky with a chef's knife; my mom had trouble with her small paring knife and they ended up wrapping it in miles of packing tape, so it would be "inaccessible." See also the list of controlled items.
Thank you to everyone for all your help and assurance. I had read that passengers and baggage weren't scanned on trains rides within England so I had been wondering whether it was true for the Eurostar ride to Paris as well. I'm relieved to hear that security measures at St. Pancras are much like the ones taken at airports. It was interesting to learn about the threat levels in the UK and how it has been at severe these last 10 years or so. I agree that an attack is probably very likely just about anywhere we may be, whether at home or abroad. Happy trails and safe travels to all. Thank you again.
Yes, the Eurostar is the ONE train experience that resembles traveling from the airport, in that you check in, get scanned yourself, and your luggage is scanned. Has been that way for years.
In France last year after the botched August Thalys attack, they started putting magnetometers up in December for at least some (maybe all?) Thalys trains (those that go to Belgium, the Netherlands and Cologne from Gare du Nord). They are installing a few more for additional routes, but it's very piecemeal and obviously takes an almost wholesale reconfiguration of the whole boarding area.
Adrienne, you wrote: "I had read that passengers and baggage weren't scanned on trains rides within England"
That statement implies a misunderstanding of how trains work. Trains are nothing like planes and the way railway stations work is nothing like airports. Forget everything about airport procedures.
Most stations are totally open, you walk in off the street, onto the platform and get on the train with no restrictions. The first time your ticket is checked is after the train is moving. That is why is why they have large fines for not having a ticket. In some places (more often in the UK than other countries), there are ticket barriers you have to put your ticket in to get to the platform, but nobody checks you, and you can still get on the wrong train.
If you want to compare how trains work, compare it with lifts (elevators). You walk up, wait until one arrives, get on, and get off at your destination. If you get of at the wrong floor (station), that is your problem. A train journey can be 5 minutes or 5 hours long. Trying to graft a luggage and passenger scan onto that system is as impossible as it would be to do it for the lifts (elevators) at your local shopping centre (mall).
Eurostar is one of the very few that checks luggage before you get on the train. The other I know of is Spanish AVE High Speed trains. Eurostar also have the ridiculous requirement imposed on them by the British Government that all passports must be checked before boarding the train. This results in the disadvantage of having airport-style requirement to check in 30 minutes before departure.
And finally, flying to Paris is more risky than the train. and driving to your destinations would be slower and definitely more risky. No way I would ever drive to or from central London, on a good day it takes an hour and totally frazzled nerves to get in or out of London by car. A train takes 15 minutes.
Thank you for further clarification on European train travel. I have to say how nice it is to hear from people who are living in Europe in addition from those of us who have traveled there. I agree that being an inexperienced driver trying to get out of London would be enough to give you hives so I am happy to avoid it altogether. Thanks again!