Sneak thieves: Eurostar doubles cello fees

Sneak thieves: Eurostar doubles cello fees


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2020

From Robin Michael:

Overnight, Eurostar have DOUBLED their prices to take a cello onboard their services. This is during a time where each traveller even has an empty seat next to them. A £58 aller-retour/return has just become £96.
Robin tells Slippedisc: ‘As someone who lives in London and has a principal cello position in Paris with Les Siècles, brexit is making my life hell enough without the doubling of costs for just taking the cello on the train. No other train operator in the world charges for a cello and furthermore it fits above the seats.
We’re waiting to hear back from Eurostar.


  • V. Lind says:

    I fear that is because of those empty seats — how lovely train travel must be these days — that Eurostar is looking for ways to recoup some revenue.

    But is seems harsh to single out single group of travellers.

    • Christopher Clift says:

      Musicians and their tools of trade have always been ‘easy pickings’ for travel companies – example – pretty much every airline in the world is now on that particular gravy train. I wonder if they charge plumbers and carpenters an extra fee to take THEIR tools with them?

  • PHF says:

    I will play piccolo next life. Also… if you have a “main position” in Paris, why not live in Paris?!

  • Marfisa says:

    Why can’t the cello sit on the empty seat? Cellos can’t catch or transmit Covid-19 (I hope).

  • di says:

    Another good reason for orchestras not to tour….

  • Will says:

    To be fair, Eurostar is on the brink of going bust, so I imagine they are trying to find revenue where they can.

    • SVM says:

      Musicians are on the brink of going bust.

      Train companies have to stop behaving like budget airlines.

      And given that we are in a climate emergency, it is imperative that, governments on both side of the Channel ensure the availability of an *affordable* train service between the UK and the Continent. Personally, my vote is for imposing a massive increase to air passenger duty (£13 is ridiculously small) and ringfencing the money raised to subsidise fares for long-distance surface transport (such that they become significantly cheaper than flying).

      • Will says:

        Its a commercial company, they have to maximise revenue, and to be honest, budget airlines are masters of that. At the moment I’d rather have Eurostar survive and charge people more than go bust.

        I agree that increasing air passenger duty and actually taxing airline fuel would be a very good idea though.

  • Bill says:

    What kind of math is used when saying that doubling 58 yields 96? Maybe get in some arithmetic practice on the next train ride…

    • Robert King says:

      If you read the entire price list and set against all the fares that previously were charged for cello seats to the various destinations Eurostar serves, you will find that Robin’s “math” actually underplays the severity of this increase. (Those who work with Robin know he is rather good at counting, as well as being one of the finest principal cellists in the business). This is a steep rise in prices by Eurostar.

      • Bill says:

        Claim: prices have been doubled.

        Example provided: 58 becomes 96.

        Analysis: 58*2 = 116. 96 < 116.

        Conclusion: that price has not been doubled.

        It may be unreasonable, unfair, unwarranted, or any number of unpleasant things, but it is not a doubling of that price. It is an increase of (96-58)/58*100% = 65.5%.

  • Jarred says:

    It would be interesting if someone took on board a cello shaped piece of luggage that was not actually a cello. I wonder if they would charge and how much?

    • John D Goodwin says:

      They wouldn’t allow it. Any oversize luggage that is not musical instruments or certain selected sports equipment, must be carried via Eurodespatch in the baggage car of the train, which costs even more to convey. For cellos they make an exception because musicians rightly want to keep control over handling their own instrument.

      Of course, none of this justifies the price increase.