EUROPE: Eurostar has selected Italian consultancy Pininfarina to undertake design work for the mid-life refurbishment of the 28 high-speed trains used on services from London to Paris and Brussels.

Announcing the contract on April 8, Eurostar emphasised the extensive rail sector experience of Pininfarina. Although best known for its work with car manufacturers including Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Ford and Volvo, the agency has worked with companies including Bombardier and AnsaldoBreda on the interiors and exteriors of trains for Italy, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway, light metro cars for Lille, and trams for Italy, Greece, Sweden and Turkey.

Pininfarina will be responsible for the full interior design, including styling and engineering, and also the exterior livery, which may be updated. The 28 trains in the Eurostar fleet will be fitted out by SNCF, with the first re-entering service in 2012, though detailed timescales are not yet available.

'Together with Eurostar we're determined to create a design that focuses on a great travel experience, thus mixing our style and outstanding functionality with a clear vision of future train travel', said Lowie Vermeersch, Design Director at Pininfarina.

The current appearance of the Eurostar trainsets follows a £35m revitalisation of the trains and stations developed in conjunction with French designer Philippe Starck in 2003.