No more Thalys: Train operator to merge with Eurostar from October
It’s official: from this autumn, one of Europe’s major train operators will cease to exist. October 2023 will see Thalys merge with Eurostar - but what will this mean for rail travellers in the Netherlands and across Europe?
Thalys to officially merge with Eurostar in October 2023
Currently, the French-Belgian high-speed train operator runs services between the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany, with services departing from stations at Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport on a daily basis.
The plan to merge Eurostar and Thalys was put in motion back in 2019, but falling passenger numbers during the coronavirus pandemic meant the process had to be delayed. After the European Commission approved the companies’ merger request in April 2023, it has now been confirmed that, from October 2023, Thalys will move forward as Eurostar.
Known as Project Green Speed, the merger aims to improve rail connections across the continent and increase passenger capacity, thereby making rail travel a more attractive - and hopefully affordable - alternative to flying.
What does the Thalys-Eurostar mean for train travel in the Netherlands?
While this news may sound dramatic, what does it actually mean for international rail services and Thalys’ iconic red trains? The good news is that many things will stay the same: the red trains will remain - although they will be updated to bear the Eurostar logo instead. Thalys also emphasises on its website that its services will remain unchanged: “Thalys becomes Eurostar, but your on-board experience will be the same.”
From October, however, all online ticket bookings will be made via eurostar.com, with the Thalys website due to eventually be taken offline. The merger also means Thalys will soon be running services to London as well as to cities across Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Once this transition happens, anyone who’s already booked Thalys tickets for after October will see their tickets automatically transferred to the new system.
By streamlining European rail services, the merger should make it easier for passengers to book tickets and make transfers; with everything running under one company and through one site, travellers will have just one ticket for their trips. There will also be a new unified rewards programme for frequent travellers - and anyone who’s already collected points on My Thalys World can transfer them to a new Club Eurostar account.
Thumb: Joseph Tarr via Shutterstock.com.