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European railway travel set for overhaul

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12 October 2010

Eurostar e320

The train operator has unveiled plans for a new fleet of trains which could see journey times between London and Paris reduced to just over two hours, London to Amsterdam to under four hours and London to Geneva to around five hours.

These shorter journey times will become a reality when Eurostar launches its German-built e320 trains. These new trains, capable of speeds of 200 miles an hour, are part of a £700 million investment which will see a 20% increase in capacity.

Eurostar Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic said last week, "Over the past 16 years Eurostar has revolutionised travel between London, Paris and Brussels, but our sights are now set on expanding our business across Europe."

From 2011, Eurostar will embark on a major programme of investment, including the complete overhaul and refurbishment of the existing fleet of Eurostar trains by world-famous Italian design house, Pininfarina, renowned for its work with Ferrari.

In total, Eurostar is buying 10 new trains, capable of carrying 900 passengers at 320km/h, an increase on the current trains, which carry 750 passengers at speeds of 300km/h.

The new trains can operate across the European high-speed rail network and can provide direct services between London and a range of city centre destinations throughout Europe.

The firm’s chief executive, Nicolas Petrovic, said the new trains and refurbished fleet would make Eurostar "the obvious choice for short-haul European travel".

Eurostar is set to lose its monopoly on passenger services through the Channel Tunnel, after the introduction of open access on international lines in Europe introduced in January this year.

German state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn is reportedly planning cross-channel test trips of inter-city trains within weeks and is understood to want to run services from London to Cologne and Frankfurt within two years.

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