Eurostar to buy German trains as it gears up for expansion

Eurostar international is ordering 10 new high-speed trains for the Channel Tunnel rail link from the German industrial giant Siemens, in the teeth of pressure from the French government to buy from France's Alstom.

In a move to capitalise on growing demand for short-haul European travel, Eurostar International is undertaking a £700m capital investment programme, including "the complete overhaul and refurbishment" of its 27-strong fleet, as well as the purchase of 10 Velaro-D trains from Siemens.

There is no formal price tag because the terms are yet to be finalised. But analysts expect the deal to be worth some €600m (£520m).

The Velaro-Ds will be able to carry more than 900 passengers, 20 per cent more than existing Eurostar trains. With a maximum speed of 200mph, compared with 186mph on the current fleet, the journey from London to Paris will be just over two hours.

The new rolling stock, due in 2014, will enable direct services to Amsterdam in just over four hours and Geneva in around five.

Nicolas Petrovic, the chief executive of Eurostar, said: "Eurostar has revolutionised travel between London, Paris and Brussels but our sights are now set on expanding our business across Europe."

Both the upgraded Eurostar fleet and the new trains will be designed by Italy's Pininfarina, which is known for its collaborations with Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. The specification "draws on extensive passenger feedback and includes a number of innovative features", including Wi-Fi and on-board video-on-demand, Eurostar said.

Until last month, Eurostar was a partnership between three railway companies: France's SNCF, Belgium's SNCB and Britain's LCR. But on 1 September it because a single corporate entity owned by the three companies as shareholders.

At the unveiling of a showcase of the new train in Hyde Park in London yesterday, the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said: "The transformation of Eurostar into a single entity has created a company well-placed to attract the resources and investment needed to deliver a world-class service. That's good news for passengers but also for the UK taxpayer as well, who owns 40 per cent of Eurostar International."

But the fact that Eurostar's new rolling stock will be bought from Siemens rather than Alstom is causing consternation in Paris, where Alstom is considered a national industrial champion and was rescued from collapse by Nicolas Sarkozy, then the country's Economy Minister, in 2004.

Siemens' Velaro-D and Alstom's AGV are Europe's major rivals in the high-speed train business. And the French government has been ratcheting up the pressure on state-backed SNCF in an effort to derail the Siemens deal. Tactics reportedly include calling for a reversal of changes in safety procedures in the tunnel which would rule out the "distributed traction" technology used in the German trains.

Eurostar's capital investment programme comes as European governments are looking to trains as a greener option to air travel. To boost competition, the continental market is being liberalised and a test run by Germany's Deutsche Bahn this month will be the first non-Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Guru Careers: Stockbroker

£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls