From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere
File:Eurostar logo.gif
Franchise(s): Not subject to franchising;
International joint operation
Main stations(s): St Pancras International, Paris Gare du Nord, Brussel Zuid Station / Brussel-Zuid railway
Other stations(s): Ashford, Calais-Fréthun, Lille-Europe, Marne-la-Vallée, Avignon, Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Aime-la-Plagne, Moutiers
Fleet size: 27 Class 373 sets
Stations: 11
Parent company: Eurostar (U.K.) Ltd.,
Web site:

Eurostar is a train service that connects London (St Pancras station) with Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille and Brussels (Gare du Midi). Trains cross the English Channel via the Channel Tunnel, or "Chunnel". In Southern England, a new railway line has been built to the same high-speed LGV standards used in France. The two-phase Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) project has been partially in operation since 2003, reducing times to and from London Waterloo. Upon completion of the CTRL into London St. Pancras, the line was branded as High Speed 1.

Since the first revenue-earning Eurostar trains ran in November 1994, Eurostar has established a dominant share of the market on the routes it serves. In November 2004, ten years after the start of services, Eurostar stated that their share of the combined rail/air market share had grown to 68% for London—Paris and 63% for London—Brussels. As an ecological pointer, the company noted that these passenger figures represented a saving of 393,000 carbon dioxide-producing short-haul flights. However, since the Channel Tunnel became operational, many people have started to make the journey across the channel for work and pleasure as a direct result of the convenience the service provides.[citation needed] Therefore the actual ecological benefit of these figures is debatable.

From 2003, the journey time from London to Paris has been 2 hours 35 minutes with London to Brussels slightly faster at 2 hours 20 minutes. In November 2007, times from London to the Channel Tunnel will be cut by 20 minutes, when the construction of the full CTRL (to be branded by Eurostar as High Speed 1) is complete. CTRL Section 2 will bring the British portion of the route up to the same standards as the French and Belgian LGV high-speed sections, allowing 300km/h running. Work taking place near Brussels Midi will additionally provide a 4 minute improvement for all Brussels-bound services. Completion of the dedicated rail link on the British side will allow a significant potential increase in the number of Eurostar trains serving London. Grade separation of the CTRL from UK domestic railway services through Kent, means that timetabling for Eurostar train paths will be unaffected by peak hour restrictions. After CTRL section 2 is completed, up to eight trains per hour in each direction will be able to travel from London to the continent, moving the bottleneck in capacity to the Channel Tunnel itself.

Some Eurostar services stop en route to Brussels and Paris. Current intermediate stations are Ashford International, then Calais-Fréthun and Lille-Europe in northern France. In addition to the two main destination cities and their intermediate stops, Eurostar also run daily services to Disneyland Paris, a weekly summer-time Avignon service and twice weekly to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Aime-la-Plagne and Moutiers in the French Alps for the ski season.

As of November 2007, all Eurostar trains are routed via the CTRL to the newly redeveloped London terminus at St. Pancras. St. Pancras station was extensively rebuilt and extended in length to cope with the 394m Eurostar trains with the surrounded area being regenerated as King's Cross Central. Originally the company behind Eurostar had announced its intention to retain some services to the existing Waterloo International terminal, a plan that has been ruled out on cost grounds. Some trains to the continent serve new stations at Ebbsfleet International station in northwest Kent. Stratford International station will open following teh completion of teh surrounding olympic complex. Stratford station with be renamed Stratford Regional station when the adjacent Stratford International station is opened. Services stopping at Ashford International will be reduced to allow peak-time services to stop instead at Ebbsfleet. Withdrawing services from a station opened only a decade ago provoked controversy from the local community, but Eurostar has rejected accusations that it is "moth-balling" Ashford International [1].

Eurotunnel, the company that built and runs the Channel Tunnel, is a completely separate entity from Eurostar.

Eurostar routes

  St Pancras International (Opened 14 November 2007)
  Stratford International (from 2007, serving both
Stratford town and Stratford Olympic Park)
  London Waterloo International
(Closed 13 November 2007)
  Ebbsfleet International (Opened 14 November 2007).
  Ashford International
  Channel Tunnel: no station facilities
  Paris Gare du Nord   Marne-la-Vallée (Daily Disneyland service only)   Bruxelles Gare du Midi / Brussel-Zuid railway station
    Avignon (Saturday service only during summer holiday season)  
    Moûtiers (Ski trains only)  
    Aime la Plagne (Ski trains only)  
    Bourg Saint Maurice (Ski trains only)  

Rolling stock

A Eurostar on the CTRL going through the Medway Towns
  • The Three Capitals trains are 400 metres long, weigh 800 tonnes and carry 794 passengers in 18 carriages (14 carriages for the 7 UK regional sets, not in use). In case of an incident in the Channel Tunnel, the trains can be divided in two in order to evacuate the passengers in the unaffected carriages.
  • In Britain the trains are classified as Class 373 units. They were constructed by GEC-Alsthom (now Alstom) at its La Rochelle (France), Belfort (France) and Washwood Heath (England) sites. They can run on third rail and various catenary voltages, generating 12 MW of power and achieving a maximum in-service speed of 300 km/h (186.4 mph) when collecting current from 25 kV overhead catenary. They are essentially modified TGV sets, and some Eurostar trains not needed for cross-Channel runs are used in domestic TGV service by SNCF. In July 2003 a Eurostar train set a new UK rail speed record of 334.7 km/h (208.0 mph) during safety testing on the first section of the CTRL. This section opened for commercial services in September 2003 and has shortened journey times by 20 minutes, helping increase passenger numbers by as much as 20%.
  • The 28 three-capitals Eurostar sets still in daily use for international services have been refurbished with a new interior, designed by Philippe Starck, started in September 2004, following customer complaints and EUKL dissatisfaction at the damage that the interiors had suffered since they had been placed into service. The old grey-yellow look (in Standard class) and old grey-red look (In First/Premium First) are being replaced with a new grey-brown look in Standard and a grey-burnt orange in First class. Power points have been added to seats in First class and coaches 1 and 18 in Standard Class. The Premium First class was removed from sale in September 2005 as the company simplified its fare structure.
  • Because of the different power systems in the UK and Mainland Europe, with the existing lines in the south of England using a third-rail (at 750 volts DC) for powering their trains, and Mainland Europe and elsewhere in the UK using overhead wires, the Eurostar trains are built with both pantographs for Mainland Europe, and third-rail contact "shoes" for use in the UK. All the Eurostars are tri-current (750V DC, 25kV 50 Hz, 3kV DC), with five sets also featuring quad-current (1500V DC) circuitry for working in the south of France.
  • While operating on the pantograph power collection, the Eurostar has to be able to cope with three different standards of overhead catenary: the regular-height catenary as found on the Belgian and French domestic railways and also through Lille and Ashford; the lower-height catenary as found on the high speed TGV lines; and the unique-height catenary that runs through the Eurotunnel itself. The tunnel catenary is located much higher than any other system as the tunnel carries double deck car trains as well as trains carrying heavy goods vehicles. The driver of the train is required to lower the pantographs as he exits one system and raise them again when he enters the new system.
  • The Eurostar trains and their drivers also have to be able run under four different signalling systems: the UK domestic system encountered between London Waterloo and the TGV line in Kent; the French domestic system encountered between Paris Gare du Nord and the TGV line; the Belgian domestic system encountered between Brussels Midi and the TGV line; and the TVM signalling on the TGV lines themselves.
  • Eurostar can operate at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on the high-speed lines with a speed-limit of 160 km/h (100 mph) when operating in the Channel Tunnel. Speed limits in the Channel Tunnel are dictated by air-resistance, energy (heat) dissipation and the need to fit in with other traffic operating at slower speeds.
  • 1 Extra Eurostar power car was built, numbered 3999. In the event of an incident rendering another without a front power car, the spare could be utilised. This was the case for a couple of years, when 3999 was renumbered and replaced another locomotive during rebuilding at Le Landy. It is usually held at North Pole depot in London.
  • The sets were designed with Channel Tunnel safety in mind, and are in fact formed of two completely independent "half-sets", each with its own power car. Whilst most of the trailers rest on a shared bogie (truck), the two central trailers do not: they are simply coupled together using a Scharfenberg coupler. In the event of an incident on board, the passengers can simply be transferred to the "good" half of the set, which would then be detached from the other half and driven out of the tunnel to safety. However, during the only incident of fire to have occurred, the power was tripped off by fire damage, making this impossible. One of the 2 Chefs du Train is trained and authorised to drive the Eurostar train in the event the driver is incapacitated, or otherwise prevented from doing so. However, that authorisation only extends as far as driving the train out of the tunnel.
  • As well as the central automatic coupling, the half-sets feature Scharfenberg couplings between the power-cars and the first (motor)-trailer. This allows for a total of three points where the train can be separated in an emergency. As well as the coupling, there are many electrical supply cables that are designed to rip apart (break) during a separation. These cables reportedly cost about £30k to replace if performed accidentally.
  • Due to the high speed of travel, the driver often cannot see signals fast enough to be able to respond accordingly. With the TVM signalling used on the high-speed lines, the target speed for the end of the current block is displayed, along with a flashing indication for the next block if it is a different speed.
  • The Eurostar trains have 3 braking systems. The motors can operate in a regenerative mode providing dynamic braking. Each axle has 4 disk brakes on it. Both power cars have wheel brakes operating directly on the wheels. The combined effect of the 3 braking systems can bring a train travelling at 300 kph to a complete standstill in 65 seconds. The train covers about 3 1/2 kilometres during this time.
  • Every Eurostar "power car" has a four-digit number starting with "3" (3xxx) This numbering fits the Eurostar as the TGV Mark 3, Mark 2 being TGV Atlantique, and Mark 1 being the original Paris-Sud-Est units.
  • The second digit of the Eurostar number is the country which purchased (and owns) the Eurostar. 30xx UK, 31xx Belgium, 32xx France. The Regional Eurostar UK trains are 33xx.
  • Of the 38 Eurostars sets built, 18 are required for daily three-capitals use. SNCF currently uses three repainted Eurostars for domestic services, one of which can regularly be seen working the Paris-Lille shuttle. After some political wrangling regarding TGV-branded sets turning up in London, the three SNCF domestic-sets had their 750DC shoe-gear and yellow-ends removed, preventing them from working in the UK. GNER leased up to five North-of-London Eurostars for their London-Leeds "White-Rose" service. Just like the borrowed SNCF sets, these were stripped of their Eurostar markings; two sporting a mostly-white livery, with three sets receiving full-length GNER-style deep-navy vinyl wraps. The GNER arrangement concluded in December 2005.

Regional Eurostar

Main article: Regional Eurostar

It was originally intended to run "regional Eurostars", direct services to Paris and Brussels from places in the United Kingdom other than London (Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Leeds). After raising capital for the Rail link from various UK regional councils and authorities, the proposed service was cancelled without ever starting. Influence by newly privatised companies like Virgin Trains guided the decision to determine that the service would not be viable[citation needed]. Seven of the shorter Eurostar trains were completed and handed over to Eurostar. A few were operated by Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) on the East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross railway station to Leeds and York. See main article Regional Eurostar.

'Nightstar' sleeper trains were never used, and they were sold to VIA Rail in Canada, which has branded them as Renaissance Cars [2].

It is rumoured that the new HSL-Zuid highspeed rail link from Brussels to Amsterdam and HSL 3 to Cologne may see Deutsche Bahn bid to launch competing services to the UK, such as the possibility of new services from London Heathrow / Watford areas to Amsterdam and Cologne, using the regional eurostars. This would require suitable border-control and customs facilities and leasing Eurostar sets, as these are the only passenger trains currently able to comply with Channel-Tunnel safety regulations[citation needed].

Regional Eurostar 3313/14 is named "Entente Cordiale" which, as well as holding the current UK rail-speed record, has seen use as a VIP charter train. Set 3313/14 has transported the Queen on a state visit to France and to the Entente Cordiale anniversary celebrations in 2004.


Eurostar services are under unified management, the Eurostar Group. In each country, a member company undertakes Eurostar operation:

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons
has media related to:

Channel Tunnel
Construction: Fixed Link Treaty - TransManche Link - Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Corporate: Eurotunnel Group - Eurostar (U.K.) Ltd. - SNCF - SNCB
Services: Eurostar - Eurotunnel Shuttle
Other: Rail transport in France - Rail transport in the United Kingdom
Domestic: Arriva Trains Wales - c2c - Central Trains - Chiltern Railways - First Capital Connect
First Great Western - First ScotRail - Grand Central1 - GNER - Heathrow Connect
Hull Trains - Island Line2 - Merseyrail - Midland Mainline - Northern Rail
Northern Ireland Railways3 - 'one' - Silverlink - Southeastern - Southern
South West Trains - TransPennine Express - Virgin Trains
International: Enterprise3 - Eurostar
Airport Link: Gatwick Express - Heathrow Express - Stansted Express4
Sleeper: Caledonian Sleeper5 - Night Riviera6
1 Starts 20 May 2007 - 2 Operated by South West Trains - 3 Operated on the Irish railway network
4 Operated by 'one' - 5 Operated by First ScotRail - 6 Operated by First Great Western

Future passenger train operators in Great Britain
New Franchises: Cross Country1 - East Midlands1 - InterCity East Coast - London Overground1
West Midlands1
Proposed open-access
Grand Union2 - Wrexham & Shropshire3
1 Starts November 2007 - 2 Proposed - 3 Awaiting Approval

cs:Eurostar de:Eurostar Group Ltd es:Eurostar eo:Eurostar fr:Eurostar ko:유로스타 id:Eurostar it:Eurostar (Eurotunnel) nl:Eurostar ja:ユーロスター pl:Eurostar pt:Eurostar fi:Eurostar sv:EuroStar zh:歐洲之星