To Europe..

Many years ago there was a dream by those in charge, both political and on the railways.  The dream was you could board a train in Swansea, Glasgow or London (other starting points were available), travel overnight, and awaken in Paris, Brussels or even further afield in Frankfurt, Cologne and Dortmund on a service named NightStar.  That dream was never realised, which is a shame, because every time I pass through the London St Pancras area in the evening when in London I truly wish I had just had dinner, washed down with a couple of pints and my next move is to step under Barlows magnificently restored train shed roof and board a sleeper to Cologne.  Low cost airlines, shifting goalposts and many other reasons conspired to undermine the viability of overnight travel through the tunnel into mainland Europe.  I would love it for this to become viable but alas I fear that time has passed, and even though I am young (comparatively) I will never get the chance to see that dream become reality.

When the Eurostar service was introduced, the trains departed from London Waterloo International. The roof of that station is an impressive feature in itself but in my opinion it is nothing compared to the refurbished train shed designed by William Henry Barlow, and completed in 1868.  There are some very impressive stations around the world and when you step off the train at London St Pancras International and look up, it compares with the best.  Alas, the same can’t be said for the newly extended domestic platforms, but the less said about that, the better.

Eurostar 3733108 (3108) sits at London St Pancras International awaiting its next duty to Mainland Europe on the 10th of May 2014

Eurostar 373 108 (3108) sits at London St Pancras International awaiting its next duty to Mainland Europe on the 10th of May 2014

The Eurostar sets themselves are numbered to denote a time when they were expected to work to other destinations in the United Kingdom apart from London, plus to show who “owns” the set.  The 373 33xx series of Eurostar sets were created to be the North of London (NoL) trains, these were formed of 8 cars per half set, instead of the normal 10 cars per half set as found on the 373 30xx / 373 31xx & 373 32xx series Eurostars (also known as the 3 Capitals sets).

373 008 (3008) in original Eurostar livery sits at Ashford International station with a service heading towards mainland Europe on the 26th of July 2007.

373 008 (3008) in original Eurostar livery sits at Ashford International station with a service heading towards mainland Europe on the 26th of July 2007.

The Eurostar sets are currently undergoing a delayed mid-life refurbishment program.  The program was initially slated to start in 2012, having been announced back in 2008.  The first refurbished set actually came back into traffic in the summer of 2015.

373 016 (3016) in its refurbished livery sits at London St Pancras International station on the 11th December 2015 having just arrived with train number 9161, the 19:52 Brussels Midi to London St Pancras International service.

373 016 (3016) in its refurbished livery sits at London St Pancras International station on the 11th December 2015 having just arrived with train number 9161, the 19:52 Brussels Midi to London St Pancras International service.

 

USB plug installed along with power supply socket on a refurbished Class 373 (e300 Eurostar) set.

USB plug installed along with power supply socket on a refurbished Class 373 (e300 Eurostar) set.

In the Standard Premier/Business Premier seating coaches on the refurbished sets Eurostar have installed a USB plug for charging electronic devices.  Still no wi-fi but the 3G/4G connection on the line of route, including the tunnel itself is pretty good.  Of course, I would prefer free wi-fi but going from memory I believe the Class 373s will not have wi-fi installed but the Class 374 (e320 Velaro) will have it installed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going back to the start of this post, talking about overnight services from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, work was started on the rolling stock before everything was put on hold, and then eventually scrapped.  A number of redundant of Mark 3 Sleeper coaches were transformed into generator coaches to provide electrical train power for the services that would serve non-electrified routes (Plymouth & Swansea).  Five coaches were transformed before the program was halted.

Nightstar Generator Coach, number 96373 (AX5G) sits unused in storage Long Marston, England on the 8th of August 2010.

Still carrying its Channel Tunnel roundels, and branded EPS (European Passenger Services) at the other end, NightStar Generator Coach, number 96373 (AX5G) sits unused in storage Long Marston, England on the 8th of August 2010.

Galleries updated:

Great Britain:

Class 373 (Eurostar), Mk3 AX5G (NightStar Generator Coach)

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~ by gingespotting on February 11, 2016.

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