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Roman de gare

29/11/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Yesterday I went online and booked a Euro­star ticket to London. I have ­absolutely no reason to visit my old home town - apart from catching up with friends - but I want to experience the gleaming new terminal at St. Pancras. I even booked Business Premier so I can try out the executive lounge.

What's interesting about St. Pancras from a media point of view is that it is playing a PR role not just for the Euro­star brand, but for the whole of London. In the press, the « destination station » has become a metaphor for the wealth and dynamism of the British capital. The International Herald Tribune even drew a rather unfair comparison between the slickness of ­ St. Pancras and the strike-driven chaos that greeted travellers when they arrived in Paris.

I have to admit that the St. Pancras project makes me, for once, proud to be British. When I heard that Eurostar had taken that crumbling Gothic beauty of a building and transformed it into an ultra-modern travel hub with a touch of vintage glamour, I felt as though somebody had finally received a message I'd been mentally transmitting for years. The democratisation of luxury, it seems, has finally reached the travel industry.

But are all the New London superlatives provoked by St. Pancras justified ? London is certainly expensive enough to feel like a premium brand. But the decrepit old Tube is still the equivalent of Flunch. The Paris metro, when it's not on strike, is still light years ahead.

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