Pendolino train

Virgin deal signals rail links with Paris and beyond

Virgin Trains and Eurostar are to offer return fares from major North West stations to Paris, Brussels and destinations across France and Belgium when London's St Pancras International begins services to Europe in November.

The so-called 'through fares' will be available from Manchester Piccadilly, Carlisle, Preston and Liverpool Lime Street from 14 November.

Virgin's tilting Pendolino trains will combine with Eurostar's services, with city centre-to-city centre journey times which, Virgin claims, "in some cases match or beat those of taking the plane".

A trip from Manchester to Paris will take around five-and-a-half hours; Carlisle to Paris will take six-and-a-half hours.

Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, said: "These through fares make Eurostar truly accessible to people living to the north of London. Rail will provide cost-effective, convenient and comfortable travel to the Continent. And all Eurostar journeys will be carbon neutral from 14 November 2007, at no extra cost to travellers."

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