Eurostar signals expansion with new trains and routes

More international routes from London are being considered by Eurostar as the high speed Channel Tunnel passenger rail service looks to acquire 50 new trains.

The company is in talks with train manufacturers for an order to replace older rolling stock and increase the size of the fleet by a third from 51 to 67 trains.  

Chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave told the Financial Times that Eurostar was “definitely” considering opening new routes from London to Europe, adding to its current services between London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. 

“With a new fleet we will study new routes, new European routes . . . I think by the end of the year or early 2025 we will be able to say more,” she said, adding that there was “huge demand” for Eurostar services.

Cazenave said one of the most important factors in choosing a manufacturer would be how quickly the new trains could be delivered. 

“It’s a race. The sooner the better. The market is pushing so hard, that we really need to see which manufacturer is going to be able to be ready as quick as possible,” she said.

Eurostar merged with Thalys, a train company serving France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, to form Eurostar Group in 2022.

However, Getlink, the operator of the Channel Tunnel told the FT earlier this month that five companies — including Virgin Group, a consortium backed by the largest shareholders in Mobico, formerly known as National Express, and Dutch start-up Heuro — were “seriously” interested in launching train services between the UK and Europe.  

About 400 trains a day use the tunnel, including freight and car-carrying services, while it has capacity for 1,000.  

Eurostar’s terminal in Amsterdam is being expanded, while Cazenave said she expected St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord to be redesigned to make more space over the next five years.

“At the stage of the new fleet [arriving], we will have bigger stations,” she said. 

Eurostar faces new EU biometric border checks, due to be introduced this year. 

But Cazenave said she was confident passengers would not face big queues, and that the owners of St Pancras plan to redesign parts of the station to make more space for travellers going through the extra border checks. 

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