Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic has said the Channel Tunnel operator is to order seven more e320 trains.
A grand unveiling of the first of 10 new e320 high-speed trains was held at London St Pancras today – an event which coincided with Eurostar’s 20th anniversary.
Petrovic said the train signalled “a new start” for the operator.
“Today is not about nostalgia,” said Petrovic. “It’s not about saying how great it was in the past… It’s about the growth that’s coming.”
Eurostar awarded Siemens the contract to supply 10 new high-speed train sets in 2010 – a decision that led to a series of legal challenges by French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom.
Presenting the first e320 train on St Pancras’ platform 5, Petrovic said the operator planned to order an additional seven trains. The fleet of 17 distributed power EMUs is part of a £1 billion investment programme which also includes the modernisation of the original Class 373 fleet.
Siemens began testing the e320 in the UK on HS1 earlier this week. Nine of the 10 trains have now been built and are carrying out tests across England, France and Belgium.
The first e320 is expected to go into commercial service from December 2015. All 10 16-car trains are scheduled to be delivered by March-April 2016.
Steve Scrimshaw, managing director of rail systems for Siemens in the UK, said it had been a “very, very difficult project” and that seeing the train in London was an “emotional experience”.
Manufactured in Krefeld, Germany, the e320 has a higher seating capacity and, with a maximum operating speed of 320 km/h, is faster than the older vehicles. The ETCS-enabled e320 will also allow direct services to Germany and the Netherlands for the first time.