Eurostar to Lyon a non-starter

Options for travel by train to Lyon for World Masters Championships

Written by Maurice Doogan on 13/12/2014

The much vaunted direct Eurostar service from London to Lyon starting 1st May 2015, is shown to be a disappointment. There is only one train a day and not every day. To make matters worse that train leaves St Pancras at 07.15 each morning and gets back into St Pancras at 22.12. To compound problems, Groups have to Check In by 06.15. That indicates that anyone not adjacent to the connecting Tube lines to Kings Cross/St Pancras will have great difficulties catching the outward train or getting home on coming back, without having to pay exorbitant taxi fares.

The Groups quote I got from Eurostar came up with a discounted fare of £90.00 return as a lowest price, but needed 20 people on each train with some days being more expensive. There is also a strange arrangement that you have to de-train in Lille on the way back, for a Customs and Luggage Inspection, which looks a recipe for a ‘bun fight’.

A group booking therefore appears a NoNo, so if those trains work for you, I would advise you to book directly with them now. I have just got a return on those trains out 02/08 back 17/08 for £107.00 [with an over 60 discount]. It appears that a lot of block bookings having being made [which includes BMAF] as when I booked on 12/12 there were only 4 seats left on the outward train. The train works for me, as the hotel I have booked is only 600m from the station one way and 600m from a Metro station the other way [yes you can have your cake and eat it]. Not that it matters much, since they have now moved the TIC and only very recently the Main Track to the La Duchiere district of Lyon, which is nowhere near a Metro Line – so much for discounted early Entries and Hotel Bookings. I can at least cancel my hotel, actually one or both of them as I have booked two, for no fee which I will do when I do my recce in May.

There is still an alternative train solution to the above very early/late train, if you book through Rail Europe now renamed Voyages-sncf.com [also website address]. You can do St Pancras to Lyon with a change at Lille, which is a much better and quicker alternative than the traipse across Paris, having previously done both going to the South of France.

It appears you can still only book this three months in advance and you need to avoid weekends. I have checked out travel that you can book at present, going out on 24/02 St Pancras 15.04 Lille Lyon 21.30 £54.00 / coming back 09/03 Lyon14.00 Lille St Pancras 18.06 £54.00. So an adult with no discount is £108.00 return.

However, the snag is only booking three months in advance, which means you have to book the day they open and one way at a time to get the cheapest prices, which is a bind. It may be worth a phone call to the Reservations Team whose phone number is on the Voyages-sncf website.

To me the train is the preferred option to flying and airports if time frame hardly any longer, but it has to work for you.