The Eurostar service between London and Amsterdam will be cancelled for up to 11 months because of work on the main railway station in the Dutch capital.
There won’t be enough space for passport and baggage checks during the renovation, which could mean no direct service for almost a year, from June 2024 until the end of May 2025.
Eurostar, which currently runs four trains a day on the route, criticised the decision, which was confirmed by Vivianne Heijnen, the Dutch transport minister, on environmental grounds.
“We calculate it means 21 extra flights between Schiphol and London and that is a crying shame,” a spokesman for Eurostar told the Parool newspaper.
Ms Heijinen has told Dutch MPs that at best services will be stopped for seven months and at worst for 11 months.
The direct service between London and Amsterdam started five years ago.
Company hopes to find a solution
Gwendoline Cazenave, Eurostar chief executive, is expected to be in the Netherlands on Monday for talks with ministers and train operators.
The train company argues that Rotterdam is not a suitable alternative to Amsterdam because the station can only process 160 passengers per train.
This makes it a loss-making departure station because 100 fewer passengers can be processed than Amsterdam.
The Eurostar spokesman said that other alternatives, such as Schiphol airport, had logistical problems but said the company hoped to find a solution to keep the service running.
The renovations will create a new Eurostar terminal but the service will eventually move to Amsterdam-Zuid station, which is being expanded.
However, work there is not expected to finish until 2036.
Ebbsfleet and Ashford International stations still closed
The final Eurostar Disneyland Express train left London for the theme park near Paris on Monday morning.
The direct high speed rail link has run since 1996 but is now being suspended due to post-Brexit red tape caused by the need to stamp passports.
Eurostar has still not reopened its Ebbsfleet and Ashford International stations after Covid.
The company is waiting to see how new EU border rules for entering the bloc are implemented and is not expected to reopen the station until 2025 at the earliest.