Good news if you travel by train to the Alps; ice axes are now permitted to be carried on board Eurostar trains without the need to be registered.
The fact that axes weren’t permitted as accompanied luggage might be news to you, even if you have travelled on Eurostar with them, as the policy was not rigidly enforced. Such was the experience of Alpine Club member Jonathan Gregory, who contacted us earlier this year. Jonathan has travelled to the Alps by train for several years without registering his axes, and learned only last year of Eurostar’s official policy. He was concerned that he might be forced to abandon his axes if he did not register them, and felt that the registration process created considerable inconvenience and added significant cost to using Eurostar; not a great encouragement to travellers wishing to reduce their environmental impact by choosing an alternative to air travel. Jonathan asked if we could persuade Eurostar to change its policy.
As it happens, the BMC, the Climbers’ Club and the Eagle Ski Club wrote jointly to Eurostar in 2009 to request a change of policy on the requirement for axes to be carried as registered luggage. In response to our request, Eurostar confirmed that the requirement related to the possibility of axes being used as weapons, rather than the risk of accidental injury, and the policy would be maintained.
Last month we tried again, and this time the response proved much more positive. Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic replied to our letter, to confirm that its policy has changed and now reflects Department for Transport legislation as it currently stands. Ice axes – provided they are packaged sensibly and carefully – may be transported along with normal luggage. Furthermore, Eurostar’s head of security has met with his counterpart on the continent to discuss the matter, and to ensure that no restrictions to axes in accompanied luggage will be applied in continental stations as well as UK stations, and no circumstances should arise where these items are confiscated.
With the prospect of Eurostar services being extended to other European destinations, such as Geneva, the new policy is a welcome development for Britain’s train-hopping mountaineers.
Visit the Eurostar website for information on train travel to continental Europe
Green advice from the BMC
This article has been read
Click on the tags to explore more