Andrew Robinson, head of onboard services at Eurostar, explains how passenger and crew safety are at the forefront of Eurostar’s post-COVID onboard service
Casting my mind back, everything happened rather suddenly. We initially started noticing customers not travelling as much from the beginning of March, and from there it was a very steep downward spiral.
We took the decision for the safety of crew and our passengers to take the catering off the train slightly before we reduced the service entirely. Removing our onboard service enabled us to regroup, review and look at the situation. Over the next few months we looked at how we could reintegrate the service that our customers had come to love and expect, in a safe and secure manner.
Even now we continuously look and review our operations and look at the science to enable us to offer something that is absolutely safe and secure and underpins our safety strategy which we call’taking you there with care’.
All crew now go through a comprehensive briefing and retraining process to ensure that they’re fully aware of the risks, how to protect themselves, and are aware of the symptoms. We encourage frequent sanitising of hands and social distancing onboard as much as practical. We also make sure that when they are operating in a restricted area of the galley, they are still maintaining their distance and are wearing face masks (or visors) and gloves.
What underpins this is the additional cleaning that we’ve launched’ every train is now deep cleaned before it enters service. We’ve identified high touchpoint areas like door handles and bar counters, and also now have additional cleaners that travel onboard, cleaning throughout the journey. It may not be on every single train, but it is on the majority of our peak services when we anticipate a higher volume of customers.
We’ve reviewed how we can deliver the Business Premier and Standard Premier service that we’re known for. All food is now served in its packaging for the customer to remove themselves, so they can have confidence that no one else has manipulated their food since it left the kitchen. We’ve redesigned the labels to make it clear to the passenger what they’re receiving.
With CafÃ© Metropole we have some pre-departure emails and also announcements advising customers of the five-person limit. It’s no longer a place to dwell and eat, it’s for take-out only. We encourage contactless payment, but that’s not something we can mandate by law.
The menus will soon be on a digital platform accessible through a QR code, which will remove the need for physical menus onboard’ a move which will also help us hit some sustainability goals long-term. However, we carried out some research regarding our magazine offering and found that our passengers prefer these to be physical rather than digital. Instead of removing these, we are encouraging passengers to either take them home or leave them out for us to recycle after use.
In all the research that we’ve been doing over the past few months, one thing that comes out is that customers trust us. It’s important that we continue to maintain that trust’ everything we do is done to make sure that when our customers return, they feel safe and secure.