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High Speed Services of Eurostar
The Eurostar International Limited (ex. Eurostar Group) is owned by some of the industry's larger railroad operators Eurostar UK limited (not to be confused with Eurostar itself), SNCF (French National Railways) and SNCB (Belgian National Railways). The Eurostar Group operates slightly improved TGV type train sets in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and occasionally other countries all together to over 100 stations. In the winter time it has been a custom that the Eurostar unit take British skiers to the French side of the Swiss alp's snow. There are currently 27 Eurostar (half) units for Eurostar capitals (the international traffic version) and 7 regional Eurostars. While the traffic figures have been growing strongly for years, the company has announced it will acquire new trains like we predicted earlier. For Eurostar as a company this is as much solidifying its market share with the coming competition as coping with the ever growing passenger numbers after the previous recession. The new train sets should also be able to achieve 360 km/h (224 mph) speeds where the track allows for connecting London with continent even faster.

Beginnings of the Eurostar Saga * Infrastructure Overview * Competition Environment * Older Eurostar Train Types * New Siemens Velaros for Eurostar * Eurostar Units Roster Pictures * Eurostar Incidents * Future of Eurostar and Other Channel Tunnel Operators *
Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino Sm6 nr1 unit onlin for the first time in Kerava, Finland


Created for by John McKey. Pictures by Andreas Ehnberg, Hannu Peltola, Stanislav Voronin, Ilkka and Sanna Siissalo, Nick Slocombe, Gerard J. Putz and John McKey.

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  Beginnings of the Eurostar Saga

Eurostar Units at Paris Gare dyu Nord, France
Eurostar unit 3011 at StPancras, London

The First Eurostars were ordered in late 1989 to transport passengers between the capitals of U.K, France and Belgium through the new Channel Tunnel, one of the mightiest investments for the time in U.K. and France.

These original Eurostar train sets were built in 1993 - 1994 starting revenue service in 1994 once the tunnel was opened. In addition to the 30 original (half) trains sets another 8 were added later. There are two subtypes of the Eurostars: Eurostar "Capitals" with 18 (2x9) trailers spans the length of nearly two TGV sets (393 meters long) and the Eurostar "Regional" with its 14 trailers* is "just" 318 meters long. The latter is the maximum length for the traditional British platforms, and the 393 meters is also close to typical maximum length of the French platforms. Both Eurostar train types can seen just about anywhere along the super high speed lines in Western most Europe: U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands. Many Eurostar Regional trains have been for hire at SNCF for years carrying both "TGV" and "SNCF" logos.

* Coincidentally this is also the length of the contemporary German ICE1 trains set.

  The Eurostar Capitals units (one of which has a loco 3221 leading it) have just dashed from London using the Channel tunnel on their way. The trains have also travelled at super high speed through both U.K. and French high speed lines almost the whole way. Here they are seen behind the glass fences at Paris end. The station is the historical Gare du Nord. Picture by Sanna Siissalo.

  St Pancras in the London end of the route is just as historical. Besides for being the other terminal for Eurostar trains it also houses a shopping mall, hotel and platforms for numerous other trains services within United Kingdom. Picture by John McKey. The closest Eurostar is lead by locomotive 3011.

Also on High Speed
SNCF TGV-Reséau unit 4523 closeup at Nissan, France
The super high speed TGV trains page has all the relevant information on these highly popular trains!

RzD Velaro-Rus' high tech nose under construction, Germany
See the Velaro & ICE 1,2,3 Page for these Siemens Mobility vehicles!

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  Infrastructure Overview
Inside Eurotunnel channel tunnel

The original route for most of the Eurostar train sets was through the 1994 finished Channel tunnel between London, U.K. and Paris, France. The rail line between UK and the continental Europe has since had several upgrades, which will be reviewed later. On the British side two impressive high speed rail route parts on the High Speed One line were in recent years added to be used mainly by the high speed traffic.

In U.K. there was initially lack of money which delayed building the on ground super high speed line between Channel and London. These lines were later built in two phases. The line is called High speed 1. Now completed lines mean that Eurostar units and in the near future other trains too can reach Paris from London in just over 2 hours!

The high speed lines on the British side can now be used by other operators too like the Southeastern with its class 395 "Javelin" EMUs. These vehicles are pressurized and were built by Hitachi. One of the yellow nosed but otherwise blue Javelins is seen in the picture on left.

On the French side the infrastructure the super high speed lines have existed almost from the opening of the tunnel. The norm speed on LGV, French for high speed line, is often 300 - 360 km/h (186 - 224 mph) for the LGVs, up from 300 km/h, which will save additional minutes, and giving competitive edge against the airlines even in the distance of 1000 km between the bigger cities, for the first time!

The French soil also serves as a connecting point for the Belgian and Dutch as well as German high speed networks via Lille. The Lille high speed track runs straight north from Paris and curves then towards the tunnel. Today the change of trains is needed, but it is likely that in the near future London will have direct services with many more cities around the continental Europe.





  In London, U.K. in the fall of the year 2007 an impressive new improved St Pancras station was opened for the use of growing international and domestic services. St Pancras acts among other connections as a terminal for international class 373 Eurostar and national High Speed One line services by Keolis class 395 "Southeastern" trains. It will be interesting to see what else use the British will find for the St Pancras terminal with its huge capacity and excellent local Underground and bus connections. Across the street from St Pancras lies the Kings Cross station, which housed the Eurostar trains earlier. The Kings Cross was also upgraded recently to meet today's needs. Nearby is also the Euston station with Virgin Trains high speed connections to the west and north of United Kingdom.



Southeastern "Javelin" class 395 unit 018 at St Pacras in London    

Nigt at St Pacras Trains Shed in London

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  Competition Environment

Eurostar Capitals lead by loco 3001 seen at Paris end of the route

For the moment Eurostar service is quite safe from competition. It is the only operator who owns long enough trains to be accepted by Channel tunnel safety rules. These rules however are subject to change and last few years there has been a lot of discussion that the rules should be harmonized with the European Union rules on tunnels. One can ask why these should differ if the tunnel is no different?

Even then the practical obstacle of competition, missing rolling stock, remains. The visioned main challenger Deutsche Bahn has withdrawn its plans to run to London with Velaro-D class 407 due to classe's postponed acceptance in Germany. At the same time DB's service demand inside Germany is quite strong meaning added need to use the international train sets of class 407 at their home turf. If no added capacity is ordered, there is none free for international traffic.

The mighty SNCF is most likely not going to challenge the Eurostar because SNCF owns 60% of the operator. Renfe of Spain has its hands full of work first establishing the link with its TGV-Réseau related units from Madrid/Barcelona, Spain to Paris, France. Trenitalia's main targets as well seem to be between Italy and France plus Spain. Thalys is again majority owned by SNCF, so no competition from that direction either.

The only remaining possible operators would be within U.K. itself. But then again, these operators don't have enough rolling stock either.

So for practical reasons, Eurostar is quite safe from the rail competition, for the moment.

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  Eurostar Capitals

Eurostar Capitals lead by locos 3021 and 3018 at Paris Gare du Nord, France


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 Regional Eurostar

Eurostar Regionals loco 3204 at Paris Gare du Nord, France

Eurostar Regionals loco 3225 at Paris Gare du Nord, France

These sets are for the moment mostly being hired by SNCF for running the route of Eurostar capitals, but within France.

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  Eurostar e320 (Siemens Mobility Velaro)

Siemens Mobility demo train of Eurostar e320 on display in fornt of the London eye, U.K.


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© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2013   - Created 18.1.2010, Refurbished 13.1.2012, Updated 25.1.2013