Faster, high-tech trains headed for Channel Tunnel

Channel Tunnel rail firm Eurostar has announced a significant upgrade program that will see all of its trains equipped with wifi and entertainment facilities.

The firm confirmed October 7 that it will will begin rolling out faster Siemens trains which are capable of 320 km/h - cutting the 2 hour, 15 minute journey time between London and Paris to "just over" two hours.

The journey between London and Amsterdam will be reduced to under four hours, said Eurostar, making it a realistic alternative to flying.

The new trains will also be able to carry 150 more passengers than the current Eurostar trains, taking the total to 900, or 20 percent more than at the moment.

As part of the £700m (€797m) investment, both the new and existing trains will be designed by Italian design firm Pininfarina, renowned for its iconic work with luxury automakers Ferrari and Maserati, among others.

Eurostar says that the redesigned trains will be equipped with the most advanced wifi and on-board infotainment in Europe, including real-time travel and destination information, video-on-demand, music and newsfeeds.

In a signal that Eurostar is set to spread its wings with the new trains, capable of operating across the European high-speed rail network, the firm's boss Nicolas Petrovic said, "our sights are now set on expanding our business across Europe."

The announcement signals the start of what could be a bitterly competitive war between Eurostar and its would-be competitor Deutsche Bahn, which announced September 22 that it plans to run advanced ICE4 trains through the Channel Tunnel.

It hopes to run trains between London and Frankfurt by 2013 and is set to conduct the first tests through the tunnel this month.

See the new trains: