EUROPE: Marking the 20th anniversary of the launch of passenger services through the Channel Tunnel with a celebration at London St Pancras on November 13, Eurostar announced that it had signed Heads of Agreement with Siemens for seven more e320 trainsets.

On display in Platform 5 was one of the first 10 trains; nine have been completed so far and are in various stages of testing in France, Belgium, the UK and Germany. Andrew Slater, Eurostar’s International Rolling Stock Director, said that a test train had reached 230 km/h ‘last night’ on HS1 and that the test team hoped to attain 300 km/h ‘tonight’.

Eurostar expects to have five e320 sets available by December 2015, three of which will be used in commercial service on the London – Brussels and London – Paris routes. All 10 sets will be available by May 2016, said Slater, who predicted that the seven additional trains would be delivered in the second half of that year.

The planned London – Amsterdam service with stops at Antwerpen, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport is now expected to start in 2016-17, according to Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic. An announcement on whether London-bound passengers on these services will have to detrain at Lille for British passport and security checks is expected in January. This will be the case for the inbound services between London, Lyon and Marseille that Eurostar plans to launch on May 1 next year.

Refurbishment of Eurostar’s existing Class 373 ‘Three Capitals’ fleet has started at SNCF’s Hellemmes ‘technicentre’, but the programme is running later than anticipated. There have been ‘some issues’, said Slater, who expects the first refurbished trains to be delivered in the third or fourth quarter of 2015.

The 320 km/h e320 with distributed power has three cars with seating for business premier or standard premier classes at each end, and 10 cars with standard class seating. Cars 3 and 14 each have two VIP coupés on each side of a central gangway, together with space for two wheelchairs; wheelchair lifts are fitted to the entrance doors of this car. A buffet-bar occupies half of cars 8 and 9. Wi-fi will be available throughout the train. Exterior and interior styling is by Pininfarina.

e320 seating
Cars 1, 1640 business/standard premier seats
Cars 2, 15
36 business/standard premier seats, galley, 2 WCs
Cars 3, 1433 business/standard premier seats, 2 wheelchairs + 2 companion seats, 2 VIP coupés, accessible WC
Cars 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 1376 standard seats, 2 WCs
Cars 8, 932 standard seats, bar-buffet, 2 WCs