Published: 16th November 2014
Hitachi and Siemens unveiled their new trains for the UK on the same day but seperated by 6000 miles.
The Siemens new Eurostar train was made available for inspection on November 13 in Platform 5 at St Pancras on the 20th anniversary of international high speed rail services commencing from the UK. The train is known as a E320 because its top speed is 320kph/200mph, The current Eusrostar trains have a top speed of 300kph/186mph which is also the maximum permissable speed on HS1.
The existing fllet is 20 years old and being refurbished in France at SNCF’s Hellemmes ‘technicentre but the project is heavily delayed and the first refreshed trains will not appear until late 2015.
But in a surprise ceremony at St. Pancras, the two companies signed a Heads of Agreement for Siemens to supply another seven e320 trains to Eurostar bringing the fleet total cost to a billion pounds. This will boost the intial purchase of 10 trains to 17 and the first five will enter service in time for Christmas 2015.
The first one has just commenced testing carried out overnight, between Stratford and Dollands Moor and at the time of writing, had reached 230kph and was due, if everything worked as planned, to reach 280kph then 300kph within a week.
So far, nine trains are pretty much ready and being tested in Germany, France and Belguim and will then move to the UK while the tenth is under construction in Germany. The first three sets will be used between London, Brussels and Paris and the initial fleet of 10 should be operational by May 2016, six years after the order was signed.
These new trains will commence the first direct high speed services between London and Amsterdam via Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport will hopefully start in 2016 or 207 17 said Eusrostar Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic.
He added that “Over the next two years our customers will see a complete transformation of our service as we upgrade and enhance every stage of the passenger journey. “By making a substantial investment in our fleet, we are sending a strong signal about the ambition for the business and our commitment to delivering an exceptional experience for our passengers.”
Passengers will be able to stay on the train on journeys beyond Parais and Brussles all the way outbound but it is unclear at the moment if they may have to go through UK Customs and security checks at Lille which means getting off the train. There are also plans for another direct service to operate from London and Cologne using the E320 trains.
The new trains carries three carriages for business premier and standard premier classes plus ten carriages for standard class passengers with wi-fi throughout. There is also a buffet car, two ‚VIP coupés‘ and a couple of wheelchair spaces and wheelchair lifts provided.
Eurostar has announced that from May 2015, there will be a direct service between London, Lyon and Marseiile which will take about 400 minutes. Passengers will be able to remain on the train outbound but it will not be known until January whether UK security and passport checks will take place at lille or on the inbound train.
While the E320 train was put on display in London about 6000 miles away in Tokyo, Hitachi unveiled the first train procured by the Department for Transport (DfT) the Class 800 Intercity Express Programme train. This order was placed just over two years ago and the first train will be ready by the end of the year for bringing to the UK for testing in 2015.
Hitachi is constructing three pre-production trains at the Kasado Works in Kudamatsu City, Japan and 12 of the 122 trains on order are being made there. The remaining 110 trains will be made at the rail vehicle manufacturing facility under construction in Newton Aycliffe,near Darlington.
The train that was showcased was a five carriage electro-diesel train with the three centre carriages fitted with MTU diesel engine which is yet to be internally fitted out. A similar 2nd train is being built while the 3rd pre-production train is a nine carriage train which will be used on the ECML.
The Class 800 trains will be primarily electric powered but will also be fitted with an underfloor diesel generator enabling it to operate away from electrified routes. The trains are scheduled to start passenger operations in 2017 on the Great Western Main Line and a year later on the East Coast Main Line.