Eurostar announces £700 million investment in its fleet

7 Oct 2010
  • Customers to enjoy unrivalled comfort, style and service
  • New Eurostar e320 state-of-the-art trains and complete redesign of current Eurostar fleet

Eurostar International Limited, the high-speed passenger train operator between the UK and mainland Europe, has today announced its plans for a £700 million capital investment in its fleet. This represents the first key initiative since the recent transformation of the business from a partnership to a single, unified corporate entity¹. The investment in the fleet will be funded privately by Eurostar with a combination of cash and bank financing.

With customers increasingly opting for rail over plane for short-haul journeys across Europe, Eurostar plays a pivotal role in demonstrating the speed, ease and convenience of high speed rail travel. By providing an unrivalled travel experience between the UK and the continent, Eurostar's ambition is to encourage more travellers to choose high speed rail as their preferred option.

From 2011, Eurostar will embark on a major programme of investment in its rolling stock. This includes the complete overhaul and refurbishment of the existing fleet of Eurostar trains to a design created by Pininfarina, the world-famous Italian design house renowned for its iconic car designs. In addition, Eurostar will purchase 10 new trainsets which will complement its existing fleet and ensure it can deliver the best possible service to its passengers as it expands its operations.

Following completion of a competitive tender process, Eurostar has advised the participants of its decision to award the contract for the manufacture of new trainsets, subject to negotiation of final terms, to the train manufacturer, Siemens Plc.

Direct services to new destinations

Built to a bespoke specification, the new Eurostar e3202 trains will be 'interoperable'. This means that they can operate across the European high speed rail network and can provide direct services between London and a range of city centre destinations throughout Europe.

With capacity to carry more than 900 passengers including their luggage, the Eurostar e320 will have 20 per cent more seats than the existing Eurostar trains which carry 750 travellers.

Capable of a speed of 320 kph (200 mph), the Eurostar e320 could see journey times between London and Paris reduced to just over two hours, London to Amsterdam to under four hours and London to Geneva to around five hours.

Pininfarina redesign to deliver optimal comfort and style
The interiors and external livery of both the e320 and the upgraded existing fleet will be designed by Pininfarina to a specification unique to Eurostar. This design draws on extensive passenger feedback and includes a number of innovative features that will create an exceptional travel experience for customers.

In addition to offering a contemporary, stylish environment in which passengers can work or relax, the new Eurostar fleet will be equipped with the most advanced wi-fi and on-board 'info-tainment' on any train in Europe. This will include real-time travel and destination information as well as interactive entertainment including video-on-demand, music and news-feeds.

Eurostar e320 on display today in London's Hyde Park
To provide a sneak preview, the new Eurostar e320 has been brought to London and will be on display today in Hyde Park opposite the Royal Albert Hall by the London landmark, the Albert Memorial.

At a media briefing at 13:00 hr (GMT), the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP and Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar Chief Executive, will speak about Eurostar's plans for investment and future expansion in an open access world. This briefing will be followed by a photocall in front of the new Eurostar e320.

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, 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 as well, who owns 40% of Eurostar International.

Eurostar has proven its worth. On Monday I announced further details of what I believe will be a similar success story – our proposed nationwide high speed rail network. High Speed 2 is looking at options to link that new network to the channel tunnel link, creating a truly international service for passengers and business."

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
"Over the last 16 years Eurostar has revolutionised travel between the London, Paris and Brussels but our sights are now set on expanding our business across Europe.

The transformation of Eurostar into a standalone business and the major capital investment announced today is a mark of our growth ambitions for the future. The combination of our new state-of-the-art trains and our refurbished fleet will assure our position as the leading rail operator between the UK and the continent and make us the obvious choice for short haul European travel."

Note to editors:

1 Eurostar was established in 1994 as a partnership between three railway companies: SNCF, SNCB and LCR (London and Continental Railways). On 1 September 2010, Eurostar became a single, unified corporate entity owned by three shareholders: SNCF, SNCB and LCR.

2 The current Eurostar train was first introduced into service in 1994 carrying 750 passengers and operating at speeds of up to 300kph. Since then, the fleet of 28 trains has carried more than 100 million passengers between London and the Continent. Following their refurbishment these trains will continue to form a core part of the Eurostar fleet.

The new Eurostar e320 will carry more than 900 passengers at speeds of up to 320kph.

3 Eurostar is a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe's leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel on the fast-expanding, European high-speed rail network.

4 Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel operates vehicle shuttle services and the Channel Tunnel itself. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's biggest customer.

5 To book tickets or for more travel information, please visit www.eurostar.com or call 03448 224 777.

For more information contact:

Eurostar Press Office

Eurostar

t:0044 (0)20 7843 5500

e:press.office@eurostar.com