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Eurostar’s high-speed stock unveiled
From the Financial Times of Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:30:18 GMT
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Eurostar's brand new e320 fleet is unveiled today complete with a live reveal of the train and special guests including Raymond Blanc and a catwalk show with 20 Eurostar staff at St Pancras Station on November 13, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Eurostar)

Even as Eurostar unveiled new state-of-the-art high-speed trains that could cut London to Paris journey times, it conceded passengers were unlikely to arrive any quicker.

Although the trains are capable of up to 320 kmph – faster than the current 299 kmph – this is unlikely to be practical.

Higher speeds increase maintenance costs, raise security and safety fears and may not be feasible where there are several stops.

“They are unlikely to go faster in the foreseeable future,” a spokesman said.

Eurostar also said it had not yet approached track operators or regulators about increasing speeds.

The speed limit through the Channel tunnel is just 150 kmph and on the British side the journey from there to London is not long enough to warrant faster trains.

Though there is some comfort for passengers on the two hours and 15 minute journey between London and Paris: the upgraded fleet will increase capacity by 20 per cent to 900 passengers.

There will be more legroom, free wifi throughout and a streamlined design by the Italian designers Pininfarina, who work with Ferrari and Maserati. Raymond Blanc, the Michelin-starred chef, is also revamping the menus.

The first of the 10 new e320 trains will go into service late next year. Eurostar said on Thursday it had ordered a further seven trains from Siemens, taking the total cost up to £1bn.

The purchase comes as the number of passengers travelling on Eurostar’s trains reached 10m for the first time last year, giving it about an 80 per cent share of the travel market between London and Paris, and London and Brussels.

But Eurostar is keen to lure more passengers from air travel and will offer services between London and Amsterdam from 2016 and direct trains to Provence from May next year. In addition, it is adding indirect routes – in France via SNCF, the state rail operator, and in Germany with Deutsche Bahn. A London-Geneva route – where people transfer to Swiss Lyria trains in Lille – will go year-round in January.

Eurostar is 55 per cent owned by the French state rail operator SNCF, 40 per cent by the British government and 5 per cent by Belgium. But Britain has put its stake up for sale and aims to net about £300m in proceeds before the election next year. The Treasury received £7.4m of profit from Eurostar in 2013, up from £6.5m the previous year.

Unions have vowed to fight the sale. Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “It is simply insane that with Eurostar unveiling a modern new fleet, generating substantial and increased profits, and planning for expansion, that this government is planning to sell off Britain’s lucrative, strategic stake.”

The launch of the new trains was held at St Pancras station in London and timed to coincide with Eurostar’s 20th anniversary.

This article is provided by, which is published and distributed by Paolo Cirio Ltd., registered in England, number 8188080. Registered Office: Suite 36, 88-90 Hatton Garden, City of London, EC1 N8PG, United Kingdom. Paolo Cirio Ltd. alone is responsible and liable for information and services provided through Daily Paywall’s newspaper and website.

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