39 Eurostar Facts: Fun Details On This International High-Speed Train

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 13, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Mar 17, 2022
Read these Eurostar facts to know about the history, features, and records attributed to this popular, high-speed train.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

Considered as one of the greatest engineering feats in history, the United Kingdom built its own high-speed railway, the Eurostar train, which debuted in 1994.

The introduction of this fast, connecting train in Western Europe made travel between Belgium, France, and England easier and more comfortable. The parent company, Eurostar, deemed one of the most popular train operators in the world, takes pride in transporting thousands of travelers direct to Calais and Lille in Northern France, and Brussels in Belgium.

All Eurostar trains cross the English Channel through the Channel Tunnel. The stations in London, St Pancras International and Ebbsfleet International, in addition to the one in Kent, Ashford International, make it convenient for UK passengers to board Eurostar trains.

Additionally, limited Eurostar services are available from London to Disneyland Paris and seasonal destinations in France, including the Swiss Alps during wintertime.

The two main routes of Eurostar from London are Paris and Brussels. Along these routes, the Eurostar stations are Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in Kent, Gare de Calais-Frethun and Gare de Lille in Northern France, and Brussels South Railway Station in Belgium.

History Of The Eurostar

While suggestions of plans for a connection from England to mainland Europe via the English Channel have been considered since 1802, it wasn't until 1988 that the work began actively.

Eurostar is operated by its parent company Eurostar International Limited, jointly owned by the National Railway of France, investment firms, and the National Railway Company of Belgium.

The Channel (Euro) Tunnel was opened in 1994 for the service of Eurostar trains, with two tubes for rail traffic, one tube in each direction. While Eurostar uses these tubes for transporting only passengers, you could also cross the Channel in your vehicle with the Le Shuttle option.

In May 1994, at the time of the inauguration of the new service, the Queen traveled to Calais for a meeting with François Mitterrand, the French President of the time.

By 1995, Eurostar was running with an average end-to-end speed of 106.6 mi per hour (171.5 km per hour) from London to Paris.

Eurostar extended its service in 1996 with the opening of Ashford International, the UK's second station.

Initially, the London terminus of Eurostar was based at Waterloo International Station and later moved to St Pancras International in 2007.

Implemented on November 14, 2003, the high-speed railway line High Speed 1 enables the Eurostar train to travel at speeds of 186 mi per hour (299 km per hour) on land and 100 mi per hour (161 km per hour) in the Tunnel.

The High Speed 1, formerly called the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, stretches over 67 mi (108 km) from London through Kent to the British end of the Channel Tunnel.

With new lines built in Belgium (HSL 1) and Southern England (High Speed 1), to match the standard of the LGV Nord line used in France, journey times were greatly reduced.

The High Speed 1 railway for the Eurostar took 11 years to build, with the engineers working for more than 100 million hours, extracting 530 million cu. ft (15 million cu. m) of earth out of 37 mi (59.5 km) of tunnels through East London and Kent.

Until 2009, just a one-way ticket from London to Brussels or Paris actually cost more than a return trip. Eurostar acted on this in June 2009 and introduced a sensible one-way fare that was finally cheaper than a return trip.

Features Of The Eurostar

Being a train that's starred in movies as well, the Eurostar has features that justify its popularity.

Eurostar stands as an improvement to the high-speed trains of France, Train à Grand Vitesse (TGV).

Owing to Britain's small rail passages, Eurostar was made as a compact version of the standard TGV in the European region.

A power car was placed at both ends of the train's halves, as a safety measure, for detachment.

You can travel onboard Eurostar in one of the three classes; the top Business Premier Class (First Class), the mid-range Standard Premier Class (Second Class), and the cheapest Standard Class (Third Class).

Interestingly, the maintenance engineers at the depot have resorted to using bicycles to get from one end of this quarter of a mile-long train to the other. Also, 90% of the water used to wash these trains is recycled.

The interiors of the e320 Eurostar trains were designed by Pininfarina, the well-known legendary Italian design house that gives Ferrari its unique style and looks.

Collectively referred to as Class 373, 31 of these trains are named Three Capitals, with the final seven named North of London (NoL).

The roof of the train has eight pantographs that help deal with the varied power systems and different contact lines of Europe.

With three different braking systems, these trains also have dedicated equipment to extinguish fires, doors that are fireproof, and are capable of exiting the tunnel in case of a fire, by operating on its own power for half an hour.

From the UK, the journey of Eurostar spans 13 different destinations in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

A fully loaded Eurostar train with 900 passengers weighs 2,195,200 lb (995,726 kg). This is as heavy as approximately 140 fully-grown African elephants or 77 double-decker London buses.

While traveling through the Channel Tunnel, Eurostar is, in fact, traveling 82 yd (75 m) below sea level for 20 minutes. Eurostar crosses the Channel Tunnel on its journey to other places in Europe as well, including Brussels and the French Alps during the ski season. It also goes to Disneyland Paris daily in the summer.

A good portion of the honey that is used onboard the Eurostar trains comes from the Eurostar beehives, located near Ashford in Kent.

Since 1994, eating habits have changed quite a lot, with 41% of the meals served in the Standard Premier and Business Premier being either vegan or vegetarian.

A total of 37 nationalities are employed as Eurostar's staff, including staff members from the destinations of the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

These Eurostar facts are sure to get you traveling on one of their trains at least once in your lifetime.

Facts About Eurostar's Terminus

To keep up with the popularity of the Eurostar trains, each terminus at the designated locations was made to look impressive and modern.

Passengers are recommended to arrive an hour ahead of time to ensure getting a seat and to get through the boarding process.

The minimum check-in time for Business Premier ticket-holders is 20 minutes and for general ticket-holders or travelers boarding ski trains, it is 45 minutes. This ensures sufficient time for passport, visa, and customs checks.

St Pancras Station, with its awe-inspiring surroundings, was designed by William Barlow in the 19th century to satisfy the demands of his funders looking to flaunt their success in the capital.

The original station claimed a world of its own at the opening in 1868, making this the single largest enclosed space in the world.

The great glass Barlow shed was extended to more than twice its length to accommodate the 18-carriage Eurostar trains, each being 437.4 yd (400 m) long.

You'll be surprised to know that Eurostar has its very own robot named Pepper. Fluent in English and French, she is often found chatting with passengers in the departure lounges.

Records Achieved By Eurostar

It is not surprising to know that this iconic high-speed train has achieved several records over the years of its operation.

The earlier speed record of the UK rail of 160 mi per hour (257.5 km per hour) was surpassed by Eurostar on July 30, 2003, with a new record of 208 mi per hour (334.7 km per hour).

In September 2007, record times were achieved on the Paris-London route with 2 hours 3 minutes and 39 seconds, and on the Brussels-London trip taking 1 hour 43 minutes. Usually, these routes take two hours 15 minutes, and 1 hour 51 minutes, respectively.

From the time of its launch, Eurostar has ferried over 200 million passengers, which exceeds the population of the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands combined.

The e320 Eurostar trains carry about twice as many people as a jumbo jet but with up to 90% less damage to the environment from carbon emissions.

The Channel Tunnel used by Eurostar services is the longest underwater segment of any tunnel and the third-longest railway tunnel in the entire world.

If you're looking to travel from Central London to Central Paris, Eurostar is faster, more comfortable, and more convenient than flying. Eurostar has taken about 70% of the London-Paris market from airlines.

While Eurostar has featured in several films, it played a bigger role in 2006, transporting the cast and crew of the Da Vinci Code to Cannes for the premiere. In doing so, this created the world record for the longest non-stop international rail journey of 883 mi (1,421 km) in 7 hours 25 minutes.

To quench their thirst, the passengers on board the Eurostar trains consume about 1,400,000 cups of coffee and just over 1,000,000 cups of tea every year.

If you enjoy trains, you're definitely going to have the time of your life riding one of the Eurostar trains, followed by a fun trip in Europe, in Paris, Brussels, and other exciting cities.

 

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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