The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle train is the quickest way to cross the English Channel. It takes just 35 minutes to get from platform to platform, with quick and easy access to the motorway network once you’re in France.
At the time of writing (28 July 2020), the government is advising British nationals against all but essential international travel. Although France is exempt from the advice, the situation is fluid and could change at short notice.
For example, on 27 July, the government issued a notice advising against travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. Anyone returning from Spain will be required to self-isolate for a period of two weeks.
Using a car for a holiday abroad gives you the opportunity to drive home at short notice. No concerns over airport closures, flight restrictions or social distancing measures. Indeed, buy an appropriate ticket for the Eurotunnel and you could arrive at any time and board the next available train.
Here, we reveal some of the things you need to know when using the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. For the latest information, check out the official Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Twitter feed. You should also read the Foreign & Commonwealth travel advice before travelling abroad.
Eurotunnel warns that online bookings are going through very slowly due to a large increase in demand. This, combined with busy phone lines, means that you might need to be patient when making a booking.
The government requires you to complete an online form before you arrive at the UK border. The information will be used to contact you if you or someone you’ve travelled with develops Covid-19 symptoms. You could be fined up to £100 for refusing to provide your contact details.
Terminal buildings at Folkestone and Calais are open with limited shops and services available. Although Flexiplus lounges are closed, the lobbies remain open for drinks and toilet facilities.
Tickets cost from £31 per car for a single crossing, but this is based on a day trip or overnight stay. Given the current situation, it could be worth investing in a Flexiplus ticket, as this gives you the flexibility to travel at short notice and with minimal delays.
A Flexiplus ticket is a little like an upgraded flight ticket. Travellers are treated to a dedicated check-in, access to an exclusive lounge and complimentary refreshments, magazines and newspapers. Note: the lounge isn’t available due to Covid-19.
This simple guide will enable you to choose the best ticket:
- Day trip and overnight: from £31 per car, each way. Must be purchased as part of a return journey.
- Short stay saver: from £72 per car, each way. Must be purchased as part of a return journey.
- Standard: from £90 per car, each way. Single or return. Fully refundable option available.
- Short stay Flexiplus: from £174 per car, each way. Five days or less. Return ticket.
- Flexiplus: from £229 per car, each way. Any duration. Single or return.
The quickest way to book a ticket is to use the Eurotunnel website. Alternatively, you can telephone to make a reservation. The telephone lines are open Monday to Sunday from 8am to 5.30pm.
Click here for a list of telephone numbers, including a dedicated line for Flexiplus bookings.
Arriving at the Eurotunnel
Whether you’re arriving at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone or Calais, you should check-in at least 45 minutes and no more than two hours before your booked departure time. You’ll need your booking reference number and credit/debit card used to make the booking.
- At Folkestone, take junction 11a off the M20 and proceed to the check-in booths.
- At Calais, exit the A16 at junction 42 and follow the ‘Tunnel sous la Manche’ signs to the check-in booths.
If you have made a booking in advance, you can proceed to the self check-in lanes. Simply insert your payment card into the machine and follow the instructions.
Either way, you’ll be given a departure hanger for the windscreen.
Boarding Le Shuttle train
Once you’re checked in, you’re free to use the passenger terminal where you’ll find shops, restaurants, toilets and baby changing facilities. Note that some facilities might not be available due to the Covid-19 situation.
Next, drive to the British and French frontier controls where your passport, vehicle and official documentation will be checked.
Boarding commences 25 minutes before your scheduled departure time. Check the blue screens and listen for announcements, before following the green arrows to your allocated boarding lane.
Vehicle types on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
The following vehicle types are permitted on the Eurotunnel:
- High vehicles, vans and minibuses
- Caravans, campervans and trailers
- Electric cars
Most cars will be directed to the double deck trains which are suitable for vehicles below 1.85 metres in height. Taller, wider and longer vehicles, plus those towing a caravan or trailer, will be directed to the single deck trains.
Eurotunnel: the journey
Once you have boarded Le Shuttle, you’re free to leave the vehicle. There are toilets on board, but smoking is not permitted.
Are there electric charging points at the Eurotunnel?
Other things to remember
There are up to four departures an hour, with easy access to the motorway network on both sides of the English Channel. The price of a ticket covers a car and up to nine passengers. There are also no baggage restrictions.
For more information, including details about travelling with a pet, fuel types and duty free, visit the Eurotunnel website. Don’t forget your passport and a GB sticker.