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Is there a cheaper/slower alternative to Eurostar between Lille and London?

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  • 3
    You can get a coach. Look at www.eurolines.com. Mar 6, 2014 at 0:40
  • 2
    Eurostar prices vary depending on how popular the train is, so there can be a huge difference between an unpopular train booked 3 months out and a popular one for today!
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:44

3 Answers 3

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No. To go between France and the UK by train, you need to cross the Channel Tunnel. Only three types of trains cross the Channel tunnel:

  • Eurostar high-speed trains carrying passengers
  • Eurotunnel shuttles carrying vehicles
  • Freight trains

The Tunnel will soon open to competition, but the other competitors are likely to be high-speed trains heading to other locations, with similar prices.

I think the cheapest way of crossing the tunnel is with a bicycle, if you have one. It may not be as cheap if you need to rent a bicycle or to buy one in Lille and sell it off in London or if you factor in the expenses along the way.

If you book a little in advance, a bus is likely to be cheaper overall. At least Eurolines and Idbus. The journey time is about 6 hours, as opposed to 1½ hours by train.

You can also investigate ferry crossings. Since the train is faster and more comfortable, ferries can but compete on price.

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  • So by definition, those Eurotunnel shuttles ARE another train to Eurostar, no? They take cars+passengers together.
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 6, 2014 at 2:43
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    @MarkMayo Technically true but if you are asking about trains, it's because you don't want/can't travel by car, no? The shuttle is not a train from Lille to London, it's an alternative to the ferry if you are otherwise traveling by car.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 6, 2014 at 7:35
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    @MarkMayo Eurotunnel shuttles don't take foot passengers. Technically, I don't know if you can smuggle in by pretending to be a cyclist, but I don't think so. So you need a vehicle not only to go from Lille to Coquelles and Folkestone to London, but also to take that vehicle with you in the train. Mar 6, 2014 at 9:50
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    So one can cross with a bicycle, but not without one? That's funny.
    – gerrit
    Mar 6, 2014 at 15:04
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You can use a combination of "classical" trains and ferry.

  • Take a local train from Lille to Calais.
  • Walk or take a taxi to the ferry terminal.
  • Cross the channel by ferry to Dover.
  • Take a bus from the ferry terminal to the train station.
  • Take a train to London (plenty of options).

A detailed description with up-to date information is available here: http://www.seat61.com/London-Paris-ferry.htm

This option is only cheaper if you book on shorter notice. If the Eurostar is booked in advance it will be cheaper.

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  • Bus on the France side of the connection as well, same price or used to be.
    – Willeke
    Jul 5, 2015 at 18:32
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If you have a vehicle, you can use the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

enter image description here

(onboard, source)

Passenger vehicles are carried in a car shuttle train, made up of closed wagons. You can get out and walk along inside, and there are bathrooms, but otherwise it's fairly basic.

Prices start at £23 each way

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  • Is this really cheaper than the ordinary passenger Eurostar? I'd expect transporting a vehicle to be much more expensive. Mar 6, 2014 at 2:35
  • @NateEldredge prices start at 23 quid per car, according to their site, so depending on the day, and time, yeah, it can be. I'll update the answer tho, thanks.
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 6, 2014 at 2:41
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    Nate, note also that Le Shuttle is a much shorter journey - Ashford to Calais, about 20 minutes - whereas the normal Eurostar is from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord / Lille / Brussels, which is usually north of two hours.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 6, 2014 at 6:12
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    @MadHatter Eurostar London-Brussels is under 2 hours, London-Lille is normally 1:20, and Ashford-Lille is sub 1 hour! It's only the London-Paris ones which are over 2 hours
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 6, 2014 at 6:52
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    Fair point, Gagravarr. I sought only to clarify that it wasn't entirely surprising that a short-hop vehicle passage through the tunnel might be as cheap as, or cheaper than, a (much) longer end-to-end passenger journey.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 6, 2014 at 6:53

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