Eurostar rail-travel refunds - take all advice with a pinch of salt
A lot of skiers who had booked rail travel independently for the forthcoming cancelled weeks of the ski season, may be currently receiving advice that is incorrect - or about to be incorrect. So whatever advice you are getting, take with a massive pinch of salt.
We at Snowcarbon are big fans of rail-booking agents, who use their expertise to book rail travel for skiers that booked online would have been difficult to do as effectively.
However, with regard to refunds, currently, skiers are being told by some rail-ticketing agents, and also Eurostar's own Groups Department, that:
"For all journey's between Friday 13 March and Tuesday 7 April 2020, customers who choose not to travel, can get an eVoucher equivalent to the full value of their current Eurostar train booking. This eVoucher may be used to make a new booking on Eurostar’s website from Monday 16 March to Tuesday 30 June 2020, for travel up to Saturday 12 December 2020 (subject to availability)."
The rail-booking agents have got this information from Eurostar.
Of course, 'up to Saturday 12 December 2020' does not include the ski season. So skiers can't use this eVoucher to book like-for-like travel.
But actually that's now out of date, Eurostar's press office told me yesterday:
"Customers with existing bookings to the French Alps are able to receive an e-Voucher equivalent to the full value of their booking which can be used for the next ski season." - i.e. after 12th December. So the situation has changed. But rail-booking agents have not been told this yet.
Eurostar's press office also said yesterday:
"We are implementing this at the moment as it’s different to our core routes, but the information will be available on the below link:
However, I would hazard a guess that the situation may be changing further. The Foreign Office is already advising against non-essential travel to France: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france
And Eurostar is cancelling many of it's services to France.
That means — and again I'm guessing here because I can't claim to be an expert on rail refunds — that Eurostar may end up offering no-quibble 100% refunds to all travellers (who had tickets booked between Friday 13 March and Tuesday 7 April 2020).
So who knows?
Confusion about this issue is of course wasting masses of time and causing everyone hassle. Think of all the worried travellers, looking to get their money refunded at a difficult time. And the rail agents trying to sort it out. When the communication may not be based on the true situation, or what will be true tomorrow, or the next day. It needs to be clarified by all parties concerned - and quickly. Or at least, with proviso that 'The situation and refund options may be about to change, so please bear with us while we wait for updates, before making any decisions.'
That might be sensible for all parties concerned with rail-travel refunds to communicate to their customers. Otherwise it's just a load of salt in the wound.