Eurostar unveils first of new 200mph e320 trains that are bigger, have free wifi and will get to Paris 15 minutes quicker than current fleet

New additions to high-speed fleet cost £550m – as company reveals when first train will go into service

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The Independent Online

Eurostar has unveiled the first of its state-of-the-art new fleet of 200mph trains that will speed up journey times for thousands of passengers from London to Paris.

Revealing for the first time that the train will go into service at the end of 2015, the e320 is capable of carrying 900 passengers and will have free wifi throughout.

At a launch event at St Pancras station today the Channel Tunnel high-speed train company showed off its first complete e320 – so-called because it is capable of speeds of up to 320kph (200mph).

The company also revealed that it was ordering a further seven new trains, beyond the 10 originally requested in a £550 million deal with German firm Siemens.

Today’s launch event also comes on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the first Eurostar train services in November 1994.

The new trains represent an increase in capacity for Eurostar’s fleet of 20 per cent, while it will is reportedly estimated to cut journey times from London to Paris by 15 minutes.

The trains are described as being "inter-operable", meaning they can run across diverse European signalling systems, opening up the potential for a whole range of new direct services between the UK and European city centre destinations.

Eurostar said that a new year-round direct service would begin in May 2015 to Provence, France, stopping off at Lyon, Avignon and Marseille. That will be followed at the end of 2016 by the launch of a direct route to Amsterdam with stops in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam's Schiphol airport along the way.

Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said the new trains designed by the Italian firm Pininfarina would be “key to [the company’s] growth ambitions.

“With just one year to go until our new e320 train comes into service, our passengers will soon see a complete transformation of our service. The combination of bold design, chic interiors and wifi connectivity will raise the bar, providing an unprecedented level of style and comfort for our customers.”

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