Eurostar celebrates 25 years, touts environmental changes, looks forward to new services

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Eurostar’s latest Siemens-made Velaro trains wait at London St. Pancras International on Nov. 14.
Keith Fender
LONDON –Eurostar is celebrating 25 years of service from London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel. On Nov. 14 media and invited guests joined senior management on a train from London to Paris to mark the occasion.

Eurostar started operation on Nov. 14, 1994, when trains from London’s Waterloo station used the existing (and slower) third rail electrified network in southern England as far as the Channel Tunnel. There they joined the then-new high-speed line from Calais to Paris and Brussels via Lille. Until the Eurostar service began there were no direct trains between London and the rest of Europe. (Until 1980, an overnight sleeper service operated between London and Paris that utilized a carferry.)

Back in 1994 the Eurostar journey from London to Paris took at least three hours. Between 2003 and 2007 the U.K.’s first purpose-built high-speed line, now known as HS1, opened in two stages and services were transferred to the rebuilt London St Pancras International station. The HS1 route shaved around 45 minutes from the London to Paris journey time.

The service has now carried more than 200 million passengers on its routes from London to Paris and Brussels and daily services were extended to Amsterdam in 2018. Originally, 188 mph, Alstom-built trains based on the French TGV were used, but most of these have now been replaced by 200 mph Siemens-made “Velaro” trains based on similar equipment in use in Germany.

Eurostar has been promoting its environmental credentials for more than a decade now, long before other operators decided to become climate friendly. Eurostar claims to be 90% less CO2 polluting than competing short-haul air routes, and, in the past 12 years, Eurostar has reduced its carbon emissions by 40%.

It has now announced the removal of disposable plastic items from all its food service options. The special anniversary train was billed as the first plastic-free service – meaning that all disposable one-time use plastic had been removed. More than a half million plastic bottles having been removed from use as a result. Eurostar says it is taking these approaches as not only do the protect the environment, but passenger research clearly shows reducing the environmental impact of travel matters increasingly, especially to younger customers.

Eurostar is majority owned by French National Railway, which also majority owns international high-speed Thalys from Paris to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Plans were announced earlier this year to merge the two companies in a new company to be called Greenspeed. Eurostar management confirmed that these plans are on track with final decisions in April 2020. New trains and expansion of services from London are likely to follow the merger, which will occur in 2021.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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