Next stop on Eurostar’s 200mph route to Paris will be the Albert Hall
Dick Murray, Transport Correspondent
Eurostar today unveiled its new 200mph trains that will open up routes across Europe and bring Paris closer to London than Manchester or Liverpool.
The company is investing £700 million in 10 e320 bullet trains and refurbishing its 16-year-old fleet. A cab and carriage of the new train was on display today in front of the Royal Albert Hall.
The e320 trains will bring the journey time from St Pancras International to Gare du Nord down from two hours 15 minutes to about two hours. This compares with the fastest times of two hours five minutes to Manchester and two hours eight minutes to Liverpool on Virgin Trains.
The e320 will be also be compatible with the high-speed networks in countries such as Germany, Holland and Switzerland, opening up the possibility of routes to Amsterdam, Geneva and Cologne.
The German-built trains, capable of carrying 900 passengers compared with 750 on the existing Eurostar, will come into service in 2014.
The refurbishment of the current fleet will be completed in time for the Olympics in 2012, Eurostar said. It is being carried out by Italian car interior designer Pininfarina, best known for its work with Ferrari. All the seats will be equipped with wi-fi and video, the most advanced “infotainment” systems of any trains in Europe.
Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar chief executive, said: “Over the last 16 years Eurostar has revolutionised travel between London, Paris and Brussels but our sights are now set on expanding our business across Europe.”
Eurostar, which began services in 1994, this month became a single corporate entity owned by three shareholders: Britain's LCR, the French national rail operator SNCF and Belgium's SNCB.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, inspecting one of the new trains in Kensington Gardens today, said: “The transformation of Eurostar into a single entity has created a company well placed to attract the resources and investment needed to deliver a world class service. That's good news for passengers but also for the UK taxpayer who owns 40 per cent of Eurostar International.”
Investment in the new fleet will be funded by Eurostar with a combination of cash and bank financing.
German transport giant Deutsche Bahn will unveil its new train for services to London at St Pancras in two weeks.
Seeing is believing: Eurostar brought one of its new e320 trains to the Royal Albert Hall today on a lorry to mark its announcement that it had placed a £700 million order for 10 with a German company
A Eurostar e320 trains arrives outside the Royal Albert Hall today
In my view, fantastic news and surprisingly quick to get the refurbished trains and also the new trains.
However, the interesting point is that DB will be launching its service on 19th with a test train - one to watch!