Eurostar marks 18 years of service and the 5th anniversary of operating out of St Pancras International
Wednesday 14th November – Fancy swapping London rush hour for a café au lait and croissant in Paris? Or battling crowds for a beer in Belgium? Thanks to one travel service, which revolutionised European travel, you can do this in a little over 2 hours and it all started in 1994…
When the first Eurostar train left London 18 years ago, it carried 38,000 passengers in the very first month of operation. Now more than 130 million people have travelled on Eurostar. Since starting operations in November 1994, Eurostar has more than doubled the total number of passengers travelling (by air or rail) between London and Paris, Lille and Brussels.
It’s little wonder that Eurostar travel is so popular, instead of having to check in at a busy airport two hours before your flight, you simply need to arrive half an hour before your Eurostar departure and from the impressively renovated St Pancras International station – a Paris service then takes you directly to Gare du Nord station in the centre of Paris or Brussels Midi station in the heart of Brussels.
HM The Queen travelled to Paris by Eurostar in May 1994 for the official inauguration of the Channel Tunnel and the first passenger services were launched between London Waterloo International station, Paris Gare du Nord, Brussels Midi and Lille Europe on 14th November the same year.
One of the first of its kind and a feat of engineering, the first train to Paris entered the Channel Tunnel at 9:40am and emerged in France 20 minutes later, several minutes ahead of schedule.
Since that time, Eurostar has continued to grow.
In 1996, Eurostar launched services from a second railway station in the UK, Ashford International and in September 2007 they moved services from Waterloo station to St Pancras International station and in November 2007 launched services from Ebbsfleet International station.
Today, there are 27 Eurostar trains in the fleet running up to 18 services to Paris and 9 to Brussels daily. Current trains travel at speeds of up to 300kmph (186mph) and Eurostar’s new trains will be capable of speeds of up to 320kmph when they are delivered from the end of 2014. Each Eurostar train is 400m long – 90m longer than the Shard is tall.
As well as being Eurostar’s 18th birthday, today also marks 5 years of service of Eurostar from St Pancras International. It was the 14th November 2007 when operations first started running from St Pancras station which saw journey times cut by a further 25 minutes.
Eurostar has also been known to carry the odd celebrity too over the past 18 years; Kylie Minogue, Take That, Paul McCartney and even the Queen herself have all been spotted enjoying a Eurostar trip abroad. No stranger to the red carpet, Eurostar has starred in countless TV shows and blockbuster films including sitcom Absolutely Fabulous and Hollywood hit The Bourne Identity.
- There are 750 seats on each train, which is almost the same number as on two Boeing 747 planes
- Eurostar also operates direct services from London and Ashford International to the gates of Disneyland® Paris
- On 30 July 2003, Eurostar broke the UK rail speed record with a special test train reaching 208.0 miles per hour or 334.7 km per hour on the new UK high-speed line
- During the winter holiday season, Eurostar operates two services every week from London and Ashford International to Moutiers and Bourg St Maurice in the French Alps
- Eurostar also runs a direct service to Avignon in Provence on Saturdays during the summer.
- Eurostar offers connecting tickets to over 100 destinations across France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. For example, Lyon can be reached in five hours from London and Marseille in six and a half hours.
- Brussels Midi is the gateway for the Netherlands and Germany with easy connections to Amsterdam (about five hours from London) and Cologne (about five hours).
TOP FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT EUROSTAR
Did you know?
- Each train weighs 800 tonnes and generate 16,408 bhp – the equivalent of 20 Formula 1 racing cars
- Each day the catering team washes over 20,000 items of cutlery, 18,000 tray sets and 5,000 glasses
- Eurostar uniforms are “up-cycled” into saleable items and Train Manager bags, in partnership with Worn Again
- Less than 1% of Eurostar’s waste is sent to landfill
- Eurostar trains operate on 3 different power lines – the English, French & Belgian.
- The amount of time spent in the Channel Tunnel is only 18 minutes
- The Eurostar customer contact centre receives an average of 1.2 million telephone calls every year
- Independent research commissioned by Eurostar has shown that, per passenger journey, flying between London and Paris and Brussels generates ten times more carbon dioxide emissions than a comparable journey on Eurostar