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I'm booked on a Eurostar from Lille to Brussels (ie it's a London to Brussels Eurostar, and I'm getting on it after it has crossed the channel)

The PDF ticket that I've received from Eurostar says I need to be there a minimum of 45 minutes before. I have a feeling that this is just the same ticket template as for a trip from London, and it doesn't apply. The last time I was in Lille Europe station, trains from London would arrive on the non-secure platforms while trains to London would use the secure ones.

Do I need to get to Lille Europe station 45 minutes before I catch my train? I wouldn't need to if it was a normal SNCF train from Lille to Brussels.

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4 Answers 4

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Here is what actually happened!

I got to Lille Europe early enough to honour the one hour requirement and checked with a member of the Eurostar staff who said I didn't need to take this into account; I was therefore able to kill a bit more time with family.

I returned to the station fifteen minutes before departure, by which time the train's platform had been announced, and sure enough it was a non-secure platform. I was able to go onto the platform with my family without any checks, neither for ticket nor for security.

While we waited for the train to arrive, a security guard came to confirm that we were indeed travelling to Brussels. I explained that it was just me, and he asked to see my ticket. The fact that my wife and children were also on the platform didn't pose a problem and they were able to stay and wait for the train to depart.

So, it was as I suspected, the ticket for Lille>Brussels is exactly the same format as the other tickets, including the warning about being an hour early, but in the end it wasn't necessary.

I was put in carriage 8, which is in the middle of the train.

Please also see Ben Watson's post.

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No you don't need to get there that early. Just turn up as early as you would for any domestic train. You don't have to do passport control or pass through the normal Eurostar security.

Lille to Brussels Eurostar travellers are put into the last carriage to separate them from UK -> Brussels travellers and guards on the train ensure that passengers can't leave this carriage.

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  • The use of one carriage is true in the other direction (Bruxelles-Lille) but do you have a source justifying its use in the other direction?
    – mdewey
    May 14 at 15:38
  • This is the correct answer (IMHO). And the last carriage in the other direction is used for Brussels to Lille folks who are not going to London. In the case of Lille to Brussels, one nit is I think in the direction from London, the authorities are going to be more concerned about folks leaving the rest of the train to go INTO the last carriage, because that would avoid passport control in Brussels.
    – abligh
    May 14 at 15:41
  • 2
    @abligh but AFAIK the French and Belgian passport checks are done before boarding at St Pancras. The OP states that incoming trains at Lille alight at an unsecured platfom. May 14 at 17:00
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The Eurostar page for Lille says

WHEN TO ARRIVE AT THE STATION
There’s no need to check in for Eurostar, just scan your ticket at the ticket gate.

There follows a table with an entry

How long before departure does the gate close?

For all classes of travel it give 30 minutes except Business Premier class is 20 minutes.

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  • 2
    This seem for London travels, not for direction Brussels.
    – Willeke
    May 14 at 4:51
  • @Willeke when I select the French language and Lille, it just says the same but in French. There is no way to select which direction you are going. Did Belgium, the Netherlands and France re-introduce border controls for train journeys? May 14 at 7:04
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    No, that's the whole point. There are no border controls between France and Belgium for train journeys. Going to UK by train requires airline-style checks for immigration and security, but that's already happened for passengers who are already on the train. They've had to have immigration checks for Schenghen and security for the tunnel, but I'm already in Schenghen and won't be using the tunnel. In October last year I got a Lille>Brussels SNCF train with no checks, and I got on it about ten minutes before departure.
    – Rich
    May 14 at 7:32
  • I tried looking at the Lille departure boards but they don't give the Eurostar to Bruxelles platform number (on the site that I found). May 14 at 7:39
  • @Rich, when you have done it, please come back and post your own answer, based on what you experienced.
    – Willeke
    May 14 at 7:41
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You presume that the same ticket template is used for all stations. I think this is incorrect.

Eurostar's "When to Arrive" page shows recommended times for arrival at Eurostar stations. Here are two screenshots with more accessible versions.

First, for boarding at Lille: enter image description here

Standard and
Standard Premier
Business
Premier
Carte
Blanche
Classique and
Advantage
Special
Assist
How long before departure
should I arrive? (mins)
90 45–60 60–75 90 75–90
How long before departure
does the gate close? (mins)
30 20 30 30 30

Second, for boarding at London / St. Pancras: enter image description here

Standard and
Standard Premier
Business
Premier
Carte
Blanche
Classique and
Advantage
Special
Assist
How long before departure
should I arrive? (mins)
90–120 45–60 45–60 90–120 60–75
How long before departure
does the gate close? (mins)
30 15 30 30 30

The times are different.

This Eurostar help page says:

When should I arrive for my train?

Please download your ticket to see what time we recommend you arrive at the station.

Your recommended arrival time might change nearer your travel dates. So, if you downloaded your ticket a while ago, it’s a good idea to download it again before you set off.

If you haven’t booked a trip yet, you can check all of our station arrival times in our guide. These timings are just for guidance and can sometimes change.

Your ticket shows even different times. This suggests to me that the ticket information is more journey-specific than the general guidance or guides displayed on the web. Eurostar isn't SNCF, and it doesn't seem prudent to extrapolate from one to the other.

I'd follow the guidance on your Eurostar ticket.

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  • 3
    This seems about boarding towards London and not towards Brussels
    – Willeke
    May 14 at 4:50
  • 2
    Yes, this is the subtlety: the train almost definitely arrives on a non-secure platform where there is no facility for checking passports, x-rays, and all the other things that might justify turning up an hour early. The only thing they check before going down to these platforms is the ticket...
    – Rich
    May 14 at 7:17

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