"We want to avoid any risk of travel disruption for our guests – delays and missing train connections – and provide the highest level of service, as seamless and relaxed as possible," they added.
The spokesperson referred to the EU’s introduction of a new biometric Entry/Exit System (EES), which stipulates that most people travelling across the Channel without EU residency will have to provide fingerprints and facial recognition data when they cross the border, instead of just having their passports stamped.
Until now, the VSOE journey has seen passengers ride in the art deco carriages of the British Pullman service from London's Victoria Railway Station to Folkestone, from where they boarded coaches to cross the Channel to meet Belmond’s continental train at Calais.
Mark Smith, founder of the train travel site The Man in Seat 61, told a UK newspaper in this vein that losing the British Pullman was a “huge shame.”
"The British Pullman was the hors d’oeuvre– it set you up with smoked salmon and champagne on the way from London to Folkestone on the traditional boat-train route that passengers heading to the Orient Express would have used in the 1930s. Joining the continental train at Calais in time to get dressed for dinner was wonderful," Smith noted.
He underscored that despite the high ticket prices, the VSOE was not elitist at all.”Most people are splurging on a special event – it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I wondered whether any trip could be worth three grand, or whatever it was I paid in 2003. But here I am 20 years later, married, with a mortgage, kids, two cats and a dog. Powerful magic – we’d only been going out for six months,” he said.
The British newspaper noted in this context that a compartment in one of the vintage 1929 cars in the VSOE costs from £3,530 ($4,385) to £10,100 ($12,547) per person, “so evening dress is required.”