So what’s the big deal about high-speed rail networks in Europe and at home? Rail Europe brings to you the fifth post in a series of interviews from CEOs of high-speed trains for an inside scoop.
Read on for the fifth post of our series: CEO Nicolas Petrovic of Eurostar talks high-speed trains.
How did your railway get started?
The journey towards Eurostar’s first international services began as far back as 1986 with the decision to build a cross-channel tunnel linking Britain and France. Construction began in 1988 and was completed in 1991. Our first test service ran two years later ahead of the first commercial passenger service between London and Paris in 1994.
Since then we have carried more than 135 million travellers across our expanding network of routes and destinations. In the early days, and especially amongst our junior travellers, we often received comments about people’s surprise at not having observed any marine life during the journey through the tunnel!
Where do you see the future of your railway 10 years from now?
These are exciting times for high speed rail and at Eurostar we have ambitious growth plans for the future. As an example, in the next two years, our customers will begin to experience the benefits of our £700 million programme of investment in our fleet of trains.
This includes the complete overhaul and refurbishment of the existing fleet of Eurostar trains to a design created by Pininfarina, the world-famous Italian design house renowned for its iconic car designs. In addition, production is well advanced on 10 new trainsets which will complement our existing fleet and ensure we can offer our passengers unrivalled levels of style, comfort and service.
Over the last 19 years Eurostar has revolutionised travel between the London, Paris and Brussels but our sights are now firmly set on expanding our business across Europe. In the past 12 months alone we have launched a new winter service to ski resorts in the Swiss Alps as well as a new direct service, ‘La Route du Soleil’, to Lyon and Provence in the South of France. This is just the beginning and Eurostar is positioned to play a leading role in the renaissance in European rail travel currently underway.
What can you say to convince an American, Canadian, Mexican to take a ride on one of your trains?
Passengers from the Americas already constitute our largest international market outside of Europe, so, you’ll be in good company. If you’ve never experienced high-speed rail, a journey on-board one of our services will introduce you to an unrivalled travel experience with the convenience of city-centre to city-centre travel. International travellers increasingly view a trip on-board Eurostar as central to their European itineraries, so what are you waiting for?