'All Set At St Pancras' ran one newspaper headline while I was in London last week. Er... not quite. When I passed through the new Eurostar terminal on Thursday, the second day of operations, it was still very much 'a work in progress'. And after all the feverish hype it was a huge disappointment.
There were no trolleys to be had anywhere near the taxi drop-off point, no shops (not even a newsagent), no WIFI, no business lounge and no sign of the much lauded 'longest champagne bar in Europe.' An enquiry at the information desk - where fellow travellers milled around looking similarly underwhelmed/mildly disgruntled - revealed that it was in the main station and therefore inaccessible from the departure lounge. Not much cop then if you're actually travelling on the Eurostar.
You couldn't even get a cup of coffee since the queue at the one Cafe Nero was as long as the Champs-Elysées. Instead, we all sat shivering in sub-Artic conditions, thanks to the icy wind blowing through the terminal. It had all the charm of a dentist's waiting room.
Meanwhile, the Eurostar staff sat muffled up against the cold and seemed less than thrilled with their new home. 'All the stops were pulled out for the launch to VIPs and journalists,' said one. 'But now it is cold, we have only two staff toilets and the computer systems keep crashing. We preferred Waterloo.'
Nor is the fact that the train descends into a long (25 minute) tunnel not far out of of St Pancras - so deep that it makes your ears pop - likely to endear it to claustrophobics. Some of the glitches will no doubt be ironed out. But I predict that a great many of us - particularly those for whom saving 20 minutes on a journey is not of life-changing signficance - will mourn Waterloo for a long time to come.