If you are planning a trip by train to the UK and haven’t made one lately, you are in for a pleasant surprise. The Eurostar terminal at the Gare du Nord in Paris has been thoroughly redesigned and reorganised for the benefit of passengers.
The occasion for the extensive overhaul of the terminal’s facilities was, of course, anticipation of the hugely increased volume of traffic in prospect for the London Olympic Games. Design and planning were settled in early 2011 and construction work started last autumn, the whole process being completely in one year, comfortably in time for the Olympics crowds to arrive.
What has changed? Practically everything. The ticket and information office has been greatly expanded to enable passengers to move on quickly to the boarding procedures – check-in, luggage control, British immigration, French customs, etc – with multiple desks to permit faster access and avoid build-up of queues. Public information has also been improved with more screens offering general information as well as arrival and departure schedules. The waiting area has also be enlarged and totally refurnished to provide much more seating and give an air of light and space at all times.
The designers have specified environmentally acceptable materials and methods, recognising the historic nature of the building housing the terminal. The same consideration applies equally to the London terminal in St Pancras Station, and the Paris designers say their approach to the new seating was inspired by the furnishings there. It may have taken the Olympic Games to prompt these developments but their €9m total cost is seen as a long-term investment in greater fluidity of traffic and a more attractive and welcoming environment for users of the service.