Has Eurostar really been going for over twenty years? No wonder the trains look tired. And no wonder the company has decided to introduce new ones. The e320 was rolled out late last year but the Paris attacks meant the company played down their introduction at the time. But as 80% of the London to Paris service is now on the new trains, it’s time to give them a well-deserved pat on the back.
The e320 – for those who haven’t travelled on them yet – are much better than their predecessors. For one thing, you don’t need to stamp a foot pump to flush the lavatory. And the onboard wi-fi and entertainment has been significantly improved too.
Designed by Pininfarina (a design house well known to those who drive Ferraris), the carriages look taller, wider and longer. But it’s only an illusion, as they have managed to squeeze 76 seats into compartments that previously had 58. These seats are more comfy however, and come with both European and UK plug sockets (vive la différence?) . Other improvements include bigger luggage racks and a revamped buffet car.
Importantly (and for this Eurostar must be congratulated) prices have stayed the same, despite the new trains shaving a further twelve minutes off the old journey times. This means being whisked to and from Paris in 2 hours 12 minutes, so just four minutes longer than the journey time from London to Manchester and, leaving the football fans aside, much more exotic.
For the traditionalists amongst you, who see pressing foot pumps as an essential part of the journey, the old trains are still in service on the Brussels, Bruge, Lille, Lyons, Avignon and Marseilles routes.