It’s been 20 years since Eurostar revolutionized rail travel in Europe, with the ambitious Eurotunnel project linking the UK to continental Europe. Since then, Eurostar has become faster and routes have expanded, while the London station moved from Waterloo to a refurbished St. Pancras station in the central area of the city. To mark the date, Eurostar has just unveiled a new addition to its fleet, the new e320 train, which will start operating in late 2015. In total, Eurostar will add seven new e320 trains to its fleet.
The new trains, which are part of Siemens’ Velaro family, make the high-speed Eurostar experience even faster as they can reach a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) – 20 percent faster than the top speed of other trains in the service.
Additionally, the e320's full 400-meter (1,312-ft) length is available for up to 900 passengers, because the entire propulsion system and all technical modules are distributed underfloor throughout the train. This represents an increase of 20 percent of passenger area compared to conventional trains with locomotives, resulting in higher seating capacity.
The train is quieter thanks to a raised section of the roof that starts in the middle of the end car. This means less "tunnel boom" caused by the compression and displacement of air when the train speeds through tunnels. Additionally, energy demand is decreased thanks to the integration of roof-mounted equipment such as pantographs (a type of current collector) and air-conditioning units.
The brake system of Velaro trains is also designed to be more energy-efficient. The electric brake feeds surplus braking energy back into the train's electrical system, which results in 10 percent of energy savings and a reduction in mechanical wear.
Another highlight is that the trains are "inter-operable," meaning they can run across various European signaling systems. This opens up new possibilities in terms of services between the UK and other destinations in Europe.
Eurostar is also catering for passenger's wireless needs with Wi-Fi available throughout the train and a Wi-Fi portal delivering news, information, entertainment and destination guides.
Seats are more spacious and feature power points and a USB socket, which is great news for those of us who suffer from battery-life anxiety. The new bar buffet has also been revamped, with reclining seats and more room for luggage. The interior design of the trains was delegated to Pininfarina, an Italian design company known for its car designs.