The Class 374 electric multiple unit high speed trains, branded as Eurostar e320, are intended for Eurostar services through the Channel Tunnel to serve destinations beyond the core routes to Paris and Brussels and scheduled to begin passenger service in December 2015. The trains are sixteen-carriage variants of the Siemens Velaro, each measuring 400 metres long. The carriages are numbered in half-sets as 93 70 3740 NNN-N GB-EIL, where 93 denotes high-speed EMU, 70 denotes Great Britain, 374 is the class, 40NN is the unit number followed by a single digit for each carriage counting from the driving car towards the centre, a check digit, GB for Great Britain and EIL for Eurostar International Limited. The trains are designed to be compliant with the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) and the original order for ten sets was subsequently increased to seventeen sets in November 2014.
Eurostar International's existing fleet of Class 373 articulated trains, which date from the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1993, cannot operate under the 15 kV AC overhead line (OHLE) electrification system used in Germany, and most cannot operate under the 1.5 kV DC overhead line (OHLE) electrification system used in the Netherlands and do not have sufficient space to install ERTMS signalling. Therefore, Eurostar cannot use its Class 373 units on services to these countries.
Siemens Velaro high speed EMUs are derived from the ICE 3 first used by Deutsche Bahn (DB) in 2000. Variants include DB Class 407, intended for international services including through the Channel Tunnel.
In 2009, Eurostar announced a £700m project to update its fleet, with approximately £550m for new trains able to operate away from the core London-Paris/Brussels network. In October 2010, Eurostar announced that Siemens had been selected, with the Velaro platform to be used. The Velaro e320, named because plans to operate at 320 km/h (200 mph), would be 16 cars long, to meet the Channel Tunnel safety specifications but would have distributed traction with the traction equipment along the length of the train, not concentrated in power cars at each end.
The nomination of Siemens would see it break into the French high-speed market, as all French and French subsidiary high-speed operators use TGV derivatives produced by Alstom. Alstom attempted legal action to prevent the contract, claiming that the Siemens sets would breach Channel Tunnel safety rules, but this was thrown out of court. Alstom said that it would "pursue alternative legal options to uphold its position", and on 4 November 2010 it lodged a complaint with the European Commission over the tendering process, which then asked the British government for "clarification". Alstom then announced it had started legal action against Eurostar in the High Court in London. In July 2011, the High Court rejected Alstom's claim that the tender process was "ineffective", and in April 2012 Alstom said it would call off pending court actions against Siemens.
Construction and delivery
The trains were constructed at the Siemens plant at Krefeld in Germany, with the first rolled out for testing at the Wildenrath test circuit in early 2013 as Class 374, with the first unit bearing this UIC identification mark. The intention was for the first unit to enter service in 2014, but due to a delay in the EBA (the German railway regulator) passing DB Class 407 for multiple working, the approval may be delayed, as the trains will follow the same approval process. As a consequence, Eurostar may only receive its first unit in 2015. In April 2013, Siemens confirmed that the December 2014 date would be missed, with a revised estimate of mid-2015.
On 13 November 2014, Eurostar announced they have ordered 7 additional train sets, and that the first e320 service would be at the end of 2015.
On 25 June 2013 set 4001+4002 was hauled between barrier vehicles by a Crossrail Class 66 from Aachen West in Germany to Forest-South in Belgium. Self-powered testing commenced in early July 2013 between Gare d'Ath and Gare de Silly.
On 27 January 2014 set 4007+4008 was hauled across Belgium by B-Logistiks' TRAXX E 186 199, and on the night of 29/30 January 2014 was dragged by Eurotunnel Class 0001 rescue locomotives via the Channel Tunnel and High Speed 1 to Temple Mills Depot where it arrived at 01:41:30 on 30 January 2014.
As of July-August 2014, one can normally be seen stabled in the TGV sidings just east of Tourcoing near Lille. The end of 2014 saw testing of 1 set on the LGV Est due to its higher line speed of 320 km/h. As is standard practice with new rolling stock, an overspeed test was performed to 352 km/h.
Eurostar intend to use the trains to expand its core operation between London St Pancras International, Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi/Zuid. To meet the prospect of increased competition through the Channel Tunnel (primarily from DB), it intends to use them to expand its network to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Cologne, and more destinations in France. In September 2013, Eurostar announced that its new service between London and Amsterdam, intended to begin operation in December 2016, would be operated by the trains.
|Class||Units||Operator||No. built||Year built||Cars per set||Services operated|
|Class 374||4001+4002[uic 1]||Eurostar||1 (2 half-sets)||2011–2013||16||Delivered to Eurostar|
|4003–4013||5.5 (11 half-sets)||2011–2013||completed|
|4014–4034||10.5 (21 half-sets)||2011–2015||under construction|
- 93 70 3740 021–8 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 022–6 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 023–4 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 024–2 GB-EIL,93 70 3740 025–9 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 026–7 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 027–5 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 028–3 GB-EIL plus 93 70 3740 018–4 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 017–6 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 016–8 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 015–0 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 014–3 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 013–5 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 012–7 GB-EIL, 93 70 3740 011–9 GB-EIL.
|1||Standard Premier/Business Premier||40||-||-||-|
|2||Standard Premier/Business Premier||36||-||2||1|
|3||Standard Premier/Business Premier||33+2||-||1(D)||-|
|14||Standard Premier/Business Premier||33+2||-||1(D)||-|
|15||Standard Premier/Business Premier||36||-||2||1|
|16||Standard Premier/Business Premier||40||-||-||-|
- Specification Sheet