Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

The Empire Strikes Back

Posted in Europe, Great Britain, High Speed by Chairman Pip on 7 October 2010

As a pair of learned individuals once said, “Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble”. Following Deutsche Bahn’s thrown down gauntlet, with their 19th October test through the Tunnel, it has been picked up by Eurostar with their major announcement today. The new company has confirmed its plans to purchase ten new trains, in a deal valued in the region of £700m. This deal will be the first time that an SNCF high-speed concern has bought product from someone other than Alstom, as it will purchase trains derived from the Siemens Velaro range, similar to DB’s upcoming Class 407. However, Eurostar have (if you’ll excused the mixed metaphor) now taken the ball and run with it towards the try line, because their planned e320 trains will match the existing Class 373 in length at 400m, thus ensuring there are no safety issues to negotiate. The ten units will seat 900 passengers each (more than the Class 373), ensuring 9000 extra seats on Eurostar’s routes. But that isn’t all. Eurostar has also confirmed the mid-life update and refresh of the Class 373s, with new interiors designed by Pininfarina, who will also design the interior and exterior look of the new trains. And they’ve hinted at new destinations, with the e320 press release mentioning travelling time using the new trains as being four hours to Amsterdam and five hours to Geneva. Clearly, Eurostar’s new status as an independent company has led to more blue-sky thinking from its board as to how it can compete, given both its own new circumstances and the liberalisation of the international passenger market, which will inevitably lead to competition on Eurostar’s core routes (DB will only be the beginning). We await with interest to see what will happen next.

“Eurostar announces £700 million investment in its fleet”
“Eurostar chooses Siemens, but French tempers rise”

A mock-up of Eurostar's planned e320 train in Kensington Gardens


One Response

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  1. World Wide News Flash said, on 8 October 2010 at 9:44 pm

    The Empire Strikes Back…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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