“ New Kent Station. „
Ebbsfleet was billed as the N Kent, SE London Eurostar station. Now it has lost much of its usefulness. Until 2010 Ebbsfleet had later afternoon departures to Brussels - necessary if you have a meeting first thing next morning. Now there are no departures after lunch time to either Brussels or Paris and the early morning departures to both cities arrive too late.So, if you don't want to arrive mid afternoon and wonder what you are supposed to do for the next few hours, your only option is to go late to Ebbsfleet, catch SE Trains backwards to St Pancras and get a later Eurostar out - wasting loads of time.Thanks Eurostar for the amazingly helpful timetable changes! Good for business travellers - I think not!
Eurostar as a concept i.e. going from Britain to continental Europe is fantastic in terms of lack of hassle around aiports, speed of travel and general all round comfort. I am suprised that Ebbsfleet is not busier considering that in comparison St Pancras is busy, with cramped waiting prices and altogether more irksome. Yes, the overall re-furbishment of St Pancras is a thrilling sight to behold but for anyone based in the southeast, to the south of London should use Ebbsfleet International.
You can park for a reasonable £11 a day right next to the station, about 100 yards walk. You can then check-in manually or by using machines on the right inside the main lobby space- I was one of the first people to use the station and there were a few software blips with the ticket machines in the first few months but the staff say these have been ironed out, which I can verify is true from subsequent visits.
You can exchange money in the lobby space too and even visit a mocked-up Eurostar train. When you move through to the waiting space, the security is lowkey enough for you to have a pleasant conversation with the staff. The waiting room has panoramic windows so you can watch trains coming up the line, a shops for books and papers and a coffee outlet- altogether, it's a very agreeable calm space with plenty of room for all passengers.
Eurostar will then call you on to the platform just prior to the arrival of the train from St Pancras (about a super-quick 15 minutes away) but you will have the added advantage of an easier check-in procedure and fewer people trying to get on the train.
For anyone who is based south of London, I recommend using this station which has tickets for the same price as those at St Pancras, but with a lot less hassle. The sane start to any holiday or business trip.