Eurostar e320 is a fourth-generation interoperable high-speed train of the Siemens Velaro family. It runs on the London-Paris-Brussels line, traversing the Eurotunnel between the UK and mainland Europe. The train was officially unveiled at St Pancras International station, London, UK, in November 2014 and began commercial service between London and Paris, France, through the Channel Tunnel in November 2015.
The high-speed train entered commercial service on the London-Brussels route in May 2017, while service on the route between London and Amsterdam via Brussels started in April 2018.
Eurostar was created as a single and unified corporate entity owned by SNCF, SNCB (National Railway Company of Belgium), and London & Continental Railways (LCR) in September 2010. It is currently jointly owned by SNCF, SNCB, Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec (CDPQ), and Hermes Infrastructure. In December 2010, a £700m (approximately $1.076bn) investment was made to procure ten new e320 trains from Siemens and carry out a complete upgrade of its then existing 28 trains.
It further decided during the e320 unveiling ceremony to add seven additional e320 trains to its fleet, which increased the overall investment in the project to £1bn (approximately $1.5bn) and the number of new e320 trains to 17, which currently cover a total distance of approximately 37,000km a month.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) along with seven other international banks, with KfW IPEX-Bank acting as the Mandated Lead Arranger, provided approximately €270m (approximately $307m) for the Eurostar e320 project.
With a traction power of 16,000kW, Eurostar e320 has a maximum operating speed of 320km/h (200mph). It is provided with eight identical and independent traction converter units and 64 axles, of which 32 are driven. Its traction system is designed to operate on 25kV AC and 1.5kV / 3kV DC voltage systems.
It is capable of carrying more than 900 passengers as a result of the 20% capacity boost, compared to the previous 28 Eurostar trains which carried 750 passengers. The entire propulsion system and technical modules are distributed under the floor over the entire length of the train, providing more space for passengers. The train’s roof is equipped with eight pantographs for dealing with Europe’s different power systems and contact line types.
Eurostar e320 is equipped with a regenerative braking system, a rheostatic brake system, and a pneumatic brake system. It is also fitted with special fire extinguishing equipment and fireproof doors and is designed to be operable for 30min under its own power to exit a tunnel in the event of a fire.
It is the longest train in the Velaro family and has an overall length of 400m, which is 10m longer than previous Eurostar trains. The train features 16 cars, with Business Premier and Standard Premier coaches located at the ends.
The train’s signalling, control, and train protection systems include a Transmission Voie-Machine (TVM) signalling system, Contrôle de Vitesse par Balises (KVB) train protection system, Transmission Beacon Locomotive (TBL) train protection system, Runback Protection System (RPS), European Train Control System (ETCS), Automatic train protection (ATP) system, Reactor Protection System (RPS), and Sibas 32 train control system.
The e320 has Wi-Fi access throughout and has a portal providing vital information such as live news, weather, and destination guides. On-board flat-screens are installed on all the cars and entrance areas. The train is also fitted with seat reservation displays using OLED technology to enable passengers to find their seats easily.
Each of the ergonomically designed reclining seats is provided with a power socket, flexible reading lamp, a sliding dining table and more luggage areas. Four spaces are provided for wheelchair passengers.
The end car of the train features a high roof, which improves the sonic boom during movement through tunnels, ad-running resistance, and reduces exterior noise. Roof-mounted pantographs and air-conditioning units reduce the energy demand. The spoiler, nose and front section of the train are aerodynamically optimised.
The electric brake system of the Velaro is also energy-efficient as the surplus braking energy is fed back into the power grid, resulting in 10% energy savings and a reduction in mechanical wear.
Pininfarina was contracted to design both the interiors and external livery and perform similar works to revamp the existing trains in Eurostar’s fleet.
Nomad Digital was contracted to supply on-board Wi-Fi connectivity and state-of-the-art infotainment facilities for the new trains. Corys supplied a replica desk simulator of the new train in 2015 to train the drivers of the new units.
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