Eurostar celebrates 18 years of service – web video http://youtu.be/oFBnfDYrJHo
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.