Channel train opens with a breakdown

THE INAUGURATION of the London-to-Paris train service was marred yesterday by an electrical fault that caused the journey from Waterloo international station to start an hour late.

But in a trip that demonstrated how the service could revolutionise travel between Britain and its near neighbours, a spare train ran through to the French capital in a record-breaking journey of just under 2 hours 49 minutes, 11 minutes ahead of the three-hour schedule.

The fault on the first Eurostar train, which was supposed to be taking 400 journalists on the first public outing of the service, was caused by a faulty circuit- breaker on the mechanism that switches power between the different systems used in France and Britain.

The service to Paris and Brussels is due to start operating on 14 November with two trains a day to each capital, building up to 15 trains a day by the end of next year.

Return fares range from pounds 95 for passengers booking two weeks in advance to pounds 195 for first-class travel.

Yesterday's technical mishap is a bad public-relations blow to a service that is likely to provide a strong challenge to the airlines on short-haul routes across the Channel. Fortunately, the inaugural train from Paris to London ran flawlessly.

Once it started, the journey was incredibly smooth broken only by cursing between the railway buffs and other journalists. The chaps from the railway magazines were livid as they heard the other journalists dictating their knocking copy about 'red-faced railwaymen' into their portable telephones.

Peter Fox, the publisher of Today's Railways, muttered into his notebook 'Why are they always complaining? This is a fantastic train. They ought to have a good word to say.'

He was right about the train. Even the Kent countryside was passed at 100mph and the tunnel was but a 20-minute blip. Once the train reached France the acceleration to 186mph was palpable, like being in a jet on the runway.

The technical problem is the latest in a series of faults that have delayed the introduction of the service.

The complexity of the power system is at the heart of all the problems. The Eurostar trains are the most complicated built as they have to be able to draw power from three different types of system: the third rail in England and two different types of overhead supply in the tunnel and in France.

The root of the difficulties is the Treasury's refusal to allow British Rail to install overhead electrification on the lines that Eurostar trains share with Kent commuter trains, and the dithering over the high-speed rail link, which will now not be ready until 2002 at the earliest.

The fact that the Eurostar trains will have to share the track with Kent commuter trains until the new line is built is the biggest problem facing the new service, as it is likely to make it difficult to achieve the reliability necessary to attract regular travellers.

(Photograph omitted)

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is returning all donations made by Redditors 'in honour' of Jennifer Lawrence and her naked photos
news

Website users raised funds after Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak

News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
advertising
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education require a Drama speci...

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Science Teacher - Full Time - Lo...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is looking for a Seco...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking f...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York