Catching the eurotunnel train
Using the Eurotunnel and catching a train from Folkestone to Calais or vice versa. It is referred to by some as the Channel Tunnel. It is a very quick and smooth journey and lasts around 35 minutes in total.
Booking a ticket couldn’t be any easier, to book online go to the Eurotunnel website and follow the onscreen process. Decide on the date you want to travel, select the departure time, add the type of vehicle, once that’s done choose the train and cost and then make the payment online. You’ll be sent confirmation by email with the departure details and other information, you will also be required to fill in API (Advanced Passenger Information) details for you and the motorbike.
Booking by phone can also be done, the call agent will ask the same questions and then book you onto the train of your choice. For multiple bookings you may prefer this method to ensure the party travels together.
Arrive in good time, you should arrive at least 30 minutes before your journey but no more than 2 hours early, unless you intend catching an earlier train than planned. You can be loaded onto an earlier train than you have selected but if you are late you may have to pay extra. There may also be a charge if you want to board a train prior to the one you have booked, this can be selected when you are checking in.
From England to France
Travelling down the M20 from the London direction, take the 11a Junction. It takes you straight into the terminal and you’ll arrive at the first lot of check-in booths.
Have your Passport and ticket to hand and at the first booth give your unique reference number that you were given at the time of booking. Once through the check-in it’s a short drive to customs or if you are very early there is a parking area with shops. This could be a meeting point if you are travelling with a group and they arrive at different times.
Heading down to customs next, you will need to have your passport to hand and also display the board card from the first check-in booth. You will then proceed to a holding area ready to board your train.
After a short wait, the lane will open and you’ll move forward to the train under the guidance of the terminal staff. You will be guided onto the train, as you ride through the side door of the train, you’ll be instructed to stay to the right hand side as you ride to the position where you will be stopping.
Stay to the right hand side because when you stop you’ll need to steer the bike to the left diagonally at an angle, to chock the front wheel on the opposite raised side of the driving area. Switch the bike off and leave the bike in first gear and put the bike on the side stand. The train is very smooth, so it does not need to be strapped or lashed down.
You can now relax, leave the bike where it is and chill out for the duration of the journey. You can either stand, lean against the side or sit on the floor. You should make yourself comfortable for the 35 minutes of travel, perhaps take outer clothing off (especially if wet) but be aware as soon as you stop at the other side it’s a quick exit.
You could use this time to plan the next phase of the journey.
Arriving in France
It doesn’t take long before the darkness of the tunnel is interrupted by the light at the other end. You are now in France and it’s time to start getting ready to depart. Now is a good time to start getting clothes back on and make sure the bike is ready for the journey, especially if you’ve been into the panniers or tank bag.
Once the train has stopped, it’s a matter of minutes before the doors open and you are guided off the train. Be careful as you depart if it’s wet on the painted metal exit, once you are off the train you will leave the terminal and go straight out onto the French roads and will not be stopped at any customs or checkpoints.
Follow the vehicles in front to acclimatise to riding on the right hand side (wrong side) of the road if you have never driven abroad before.
Take your time if you have never done it before, as places and signs are different and unfamiliar. It will take some time to acclimate and adjust to your new surroundings and become familiar with sign posts, road markings and layouts. You may also need to re-think overtaking, which way to look and negotiate new road layouts such as roundabouts.
From France to England
From many miles away it’s signposted for the Eurotunnel, you are advised on the Eurotunnel website to look for signs that say ‘Tunnel sous la Manche’, take junction 42 on the A16 motorway that runs along the coastline.
As you arrive at the terminal, you go straight into an unmanned self service booth. If you’ve queued on arrival, you move forward to take your turn and you will need your booking reference number to hand that you were given at the end of the online booking process (RIDERS HUB TIP – have it written down and put in view In your tank bag with your map).
As you enter the reference number, you will be required to then select the train you want. If it’s an earlier train they have a surcharge for the privilege of travelling earlier, some trains say no charge even if it is sooner than the one you have previously booked.
After checking in, take your slip and head forward and go straight through customs, ensuring you have your Passport to hand ready to show at the customs checkpoint. Once clear you will then move forward to a holding area where you will wait until it’s time to board the train.
Once the gate opens, you will then move forward and follow signs and directions by terminal staff as you head towards the train to embark. The process is exactly the same as heading in the other direction. Ride on the right hand side of the train, park diagonally when you stop, chock the front wheel against the raised kerb on the left hand side of the driving area, leave the bike in gear and on the side stand. Relax and enjoy the ride.
Arriving in England
Make sure you are fully dressed as you arrive in England and are ready to ride as normal. Because once the train doors open, you will ride straight off the train and onto the M20 motorway, if that’s where you are heading!
There are no checks once you disembark as you went through UK customs in France before boarding. Make sure before departure that you have everything packed away properly, all zips and straps are secure and you are correctly depressed and geared up to ride straight onto the motorway to commerce the next phase of your journey.