8 October 2010 | Lindsay Clark
Eurostar has awarded a train manufacturing deal to international engineering firm Siemens as part of a £700 million investment.
The cross channel rail company had previously bought its trains from French supplier Alstom.
Eurostar said that from next year it would embark on a major programme of investment in its rolling stock. This includes the complete overhaul and refurbishment of its existing fleet and the purchase of 10 new trains.
The company said the new e320 trains would carry more than 900 passengers at speeds of up to 320kph. Italian firm Pininfarina will design the interiors and external livery of both the e320 and the upgraded trains.
The decision to buy the new stock is the first major deal since Eurostar became a single company with three shareholders – train companies SNCF, SNCB and LCR (London & Continental Railways). Prior to the change on 1 September, it had operated as a partnership between these three parties. The single entity move gives it more independence and control over investment decisions, which have enabled it to go to the market for finance.
Philip Hammond, UK transport secretary, said: “The transformation of Eurostar into a single entity has created a company well-placed to attract the resources and investment needed to deliver a world class service. That’s good news for passengers but also for the UK taxpayer as well, who own 40 per cent of Eurostar International.”
Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic, added: “The combination of our new state-of-the-art trains and our refurbished fleet will assure our position as the leading rail operator between the UK and the continent and make us the obvious choice for short haul European travel."