The secret code all Eurostar passengers need to know

Published: 2 June, 2024 | Tags:

Need to get to St Pancras for that all-important trip to the continent? Staggered at the cost of getting there at peak time? Anxious about missing the Eurostar if your train to St Pancras should let you down? Read on, and we’ll reveal the secret code that will get you out of trouble.

The special CIV ticket

We wrote a few months ago about CIV tickets, the “closely-guarded secret” to international rail travel. This special ticket confers two major advantages on international travellers: it allows them to reach St Pancras during peak hours at a normal off-peak cost, and it protects them if their train to St Pancras breaks down and they miss the international train they were booked on. The international carrier, in this case Eurostar, is bound by the conditions of CIV to place you on their next available service at no extra cost.

And here’s a third advantage for those who need to reach London via a station other than St Pancras: the CIV ticket automatically provides free tube transport.

This is all very well in theory but how well does it work in practice? We decided to test the system by following closely the instructions given by The Man in Seat 61. First of all, travellers must be already in possession of a Eurostar ticket, because CIV only works for international travel. And secondly, the station they are leaving from must be a participating station, which you can check online. We tested it from Ashford International.

Code to the station that doesn’t exist

We chose a quiet period of the day to approach the ticket office at Ashford International Station. Having cornered our man, we requested a return fare to London International CIV, and got a blank stare in return. There is no station with that name.

This is where The Man in Seat 61 suggests we make life easy for ticketing staff by quoting the destination code for this “station”. Every destination in the UK has a unique three-letter code: Ashford’s is AFK, Canterbury West’s is CBW, and London terminals have the generalised code LON. London International CIV has its own special code, and here it is: LNE.

Our man typed LNE into his computer and hey presto! London International CIV appeared on the system. Here was an off-peak-priced ticket available for use during peak hours.

As it happened, we were travelling off peak and therefore able to get a further reduction with our railcard. Railcard reductions are not available at peak times, even with CIV, but the off-peak rate is still well worth having when taking the expensive HS1.

And because we were protected against missing our Eurostar by the conditions of CIV, we didn’t feel the need to take an earlier High Speed in case our chosen one was cancelled or late.

So we can confirm that the CIV system works and that Ashford International Station has at least one staff member who knows what it is!

London International CIV ticket for Eurostar passengers