The project, which is being financed privately by
Eurostar through a combination of cash and bank financing, includes the
refurbishment of the existing train fleet and the acquisition of 10 new
Siemens Velaro trains.

From 2012 Eurostar will embark on a two-year programme to
completely overhaul and refurbish its class 373 trains, which were
delivered between 1993 and 1996. The redesign is being carried out by
Italian design house Pininfarina.

e320.jpgSubject to negotiation of final terms, Eurostar will also order 10
Velaro e320 high-speed trains from Siemens, in a deal expected to be
worth around Euros 600 million. The 400m-long trains, which will seat
more than 900 passengers, will be manufactured at Siemens' site in
Krefeld, Germany and will be delivered in 2014. Eurostar says the
trains' 320km/h capability would allow London - Paris journey times to
be reduced to less than two hours, while Amsterdam could be reached in
four hours and Geneva in five hours.

However, the French government has objected to the operation of trains
with distributed power in the Channel Tunnel on the grounds that no
study has been carried out into the safety case for using such trains
in the tunnel.

In a remarkable statement issued today, minister for ecology, energy, sustainable development and marine affairs Mr Jean-Louis Borloo and Mr
Dominique Bussereau, minister of state responsible for transport,
expressed "amazement" at what they described as "Eurostar's failure to
take account of the safety rules in the call for tenders". They
concluded: "Eurostar must adapt its call for tenders to comply with the
current safety issues," adding that "[the ministers] also deeply regret
the commercial statements which are today embittering the issue."
Britain's transport minister Mr Philip Hammond responded: "we are confident that these safety issues can be addressed and we are confident that it can be done within the timescale proposed."
If the French government decides to pursue a policy against distributed
power, it would also impact upon DB's plans to run pairs of 200m-long class 407
ICE trains through the tunnel. DB expects to launch services between
London and Germany in 2013.