Eurostar buys new fleet in £700m deal

EUROSTAR will buy 10 new trains for £700m to add to its existing fleet as it extends services to Amsterdam and Geneva.

The upgrade will be funded by Eurostar through cash and bank loans. The move will significantly improve Eurostar’s fleet with faster trains, capable of travelling up to 320kph.

The new trains, to be manufactured by Germany’s Siemens, are expected to cut Paris travel time to a little over two hours.

The train company also expects the upgrades to allow the operator to carry more than 900 passengers by adding 20 per cent more seats to the trains. Eurostar said the new fleet would be equipped with wi-fi and on-board services including real-time travel and destination information and interactive entertainment.

Eurostar has also unveiled plans to add Amsterdam and Geneva to its list of destinations as the group looks to expand into the rest of Europe.

Travel time to Amsterdam, on the new trains, is expected to take just under four hours, while travel time to Geneva will take around five hours. Eurostar plans to encourage more passengers to choose high-speed train travel. The firm’s chief executive, Nicolas Petrovic, said the new trains and refurbished fleet would make Eurostar “the obvious choice for short-haul European travel”.

Next weekend, German state-owned company Deutsche Bahn plans to test one of its high-speed trains on a run through the Channel Tunnel as it contemplates a direct London-German service.

FAST FACTS | EUROSTAR UPGRADE

Two new routes: Amsterdam and Geneva.
Eurostar said it will also redesign its existing fleet of 28 trains.
Eurostar says it commands 80 per cent of the market between London and Paris.