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I know that, in order to combat the Lille Loophole, UK border checks in St Pancras and/or a Schengen coach have been employed at various Points in time.

Are any of the above Setups in use as we speak? If not, is there any other measure to prevent the loophole?

(for those not knowing what the Lille Loophole is: The Eurostar Trains from Brussels to London stop at Lille and sometimes Calais, both located in France. You buy a ticket from Brussels to Lille or Calais but remain onboard until London (in Brussels, pax ticketed to Lille or Calais enter the Eurostar area one floor below UK-ticketed Pax, and thus don't clear Immigration). It is (was?) a sure means of entering the UK illegally if you don't actually have the proper paperwork.)

  • @pnuts This was written in January 2015. I explained in my question that this Setup (a Schengen Coach) is one of two that have been used, but from what I've heard Eurostar has gone back and forth on it. Hence why I'm asking what the current Setup is. – Crazydre Aug 7 '16 at 18:37
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    Answering this question seems to promote illegal practices. If you stick to the rules, why would you need an answer to this question? – Summer Aug 8 '16 at 9:33
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    @JaneDoe1337 I'm Swedish, so have no reason to use the loophole. I'm just curious about the System. – Crazydre Aug 8 '16 at 15:03
  • See what I wrote on FlyerTalk - nothing has changed since 2015, in fact nothing has changed in several years since they opened the special Schengen checkin in Brussels + stopped you being able to travel anything other than economy – Gagravarr Oct 15 '16 at 17:39
  • See also Can you buy Eurostar Brussels-Lille tickets on the day, for the same price as in advance? here - that covers the ticketing side – Gagravarr Oct 15 '16 at 17:40
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+150

Firstly, tickets. As covered in this Travel.SE question, unless you have a Lille-Brussels season ticket, you need to buy your Brussels-Lille or Brussels-Calais tickets several days out, and online. (Exact slightly complicated details in this answer)

As Brussels Midi station, when checking in, there are now two checkin areas. The main (normal, long standing) one is on the ground floor, but is now for UK-bound passengers only. The special Lille checkin desk to the left has gone. Passengers for Lille and Calais need to check in at the special Schengen checkin area up on the first floor.

After checking in on the upstairs floor, you go through to a special waiting area. There is no Business Premier lounge here, and no access to the one in the main area below. (Only standard / economy tickets are sold for Brussels-France, so there aren't many people affected).

At boarding time, passengers for France are escorted onto coach 18, the one at the very back. Security guards in red shirts ensure that they don't enter any other coach, and prevent them from going past the toilets in the vestibule between coaches 17 and 18. As such, there's no access to the buffet car.

On arrival into Lille and Calais, more security staff are waiting by the exit from coach 18, with that area of the platform roped off. Passengers are required to exit at their stop, and exit through the special roped-off area back into the normal station. The train won't leave until all the French domestic customers are off coach 18.

No UK-bound passengers are permitted in coach 18, and you can't pick it as your seat, so there's no mixing of Schengen-domestic passengers for France and passport control cleared UK ones. UK-bound passengers seated in coach 17 aren't allowed (by the same red-shirted security staff) into coach 18, no matter how much quieter it might be, until after the last stop in France.

See also my answer on FlyerTalk and this FlyerTalk thread I've contributed to.

  • So what happens if you buy a Brussels-London tickets and then try to leave the train at Lille? – JonathanReez Nov 20 '16 at 19:45
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    @JonathanReez Interesting, but I think that should be a separate question as it would involve illegally staying in Schengen while having been potentially stamped out in Brussels; a different issue with different measures. – Jan Nov 20 '16 at 19:54
  • @JonathanReez If you got off from one of the normal carriages at Lille, you'd still be on a secured platform. The Eurostar staff would try to get you back on the train, and the red-shirted security staff wouldn't let you past the barrier "into France". Likely the Eurostar staff would, post-train departure, lead you upstairs to the French passport control to re-enter France. I've not had cause to change my mind on travelling after going through immigration at Lille, so can't be sure of the exact exiting procedure though – Gagravarr Nov 20 '16 at 23:41

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