Two guide dogs broke the canine UK land speed record on the 8th October, when they travelled at 186 mph on Eurostar for the first time, between London and Paris. Previously, blind and vision-impaired people were unable to take their guide dogs on board the service through the Channel Tunnel, as the carriage of all animals was banned.
Helping to promote Guide Dogs' Access for All Campaign, two guide dog owners - Dr Mike Nussbaum with guide dog Gretl (from Milton Keynes), and Colin Davies with Robert (from Hove) - pictured above at the Gare du Nord, Paris - joined other passengers on board the Eurostar service to the Continent.
They were raising awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act, which gives vision-impaired people with their guide dogs the same rights of entry to and good service in retail premises as everyone else.
Over the past few months Eurostar staff have been training with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and working closely with DEFRA, to put in place the procedures and facilities required to enable this new customer initiative to operate efficiently and effectively. Guide dogs travel on Eurostar free of charge.
Guide Dogs Head of Communications, Robin Hutchinson explained: "We are delighted that Eurostar is committed to the guide dog partnership. Eurostar has gone the extra mile to ensure that guide dog owners are now welcome on board its services and can enjoy the same freedom and independence that travel offers everybody else.
"Guide dogs are well behaved and discreet. The grooming regime puts considerable emphasis on hygiene, and, as far as other people are concerned, they should hardly notice their presence."
Eurostar's Director of Communications, Paul Charles commented:
"This is an important initiative for Eurostar and after the introduction of guide dogs we will in the future review the possibility of carrying other assistance dogs. However, it is key to stress that Eurostar continues its policy of not transporting other animals or pets."
Waterloo International will be the only UK reception point for the admittance of guide dogs.
Guide dog facilities are not available at Ashford International Terminal. The number of guide dogs on each service train will be limited because of the safety requirement to have an allocated member of staff per blind/partially sighted person and guide dog in the unlikely event of an evacuation in the Channel Tunnel.