Over the last quarter-century, Eurostar has expanded its range of destinations, broken several records and transited royals, footballers, celebrities and politicians to the other side of the British Channel.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterand finally reached an agreement in on a channel tunnel in 1986. Construction started two years later and reached completion in 1993.
Despite the initial budget of £4.7bn, the costs of construction almost doubled over the following years, reaching a total of about £9.5bn.
MAY 1994: THE QUEEN INAUGURATES THE EUROSTAR
Six years and many billions of pounds later, the Eurostar was officially inaugurated in May 1994 by Queen Elizabeth, who met with President Mitterand in Calais to cut the customary ribbon.
On 14 November 1994, the first Eurostar passenger service finally left Waterloo station heading towards Paris’ Gare du Nord station, Brussels-Midi/Zuid and Lille Europe.
JULY 2003: NEW SPEED RECORD THANKS TO HS1
The completion of the first section of the UK’s High-Speed 1 (HS1) line, which currently runs between London and the Channel Tunnel, gave the Eurostar a breath of fresh air.
With travel times between various destinations gradually shortening, the arrival of HS1 helped the service hit a new record, as it reached a top speed of 208mph for the first time in the UK’s rail history.
APRIL 2006: EUROSTAR STEPS UP ENVIRONMENTAL CREDENTIALS
In 2006, Eurostar announced that its trains were fully carbon-neutral and that it would commit to reducing its overall carbon emissions by 25% by 2012.
NOVEMBER 2007: RELOCATION TO ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL
After 13 years at Waterloo Station, Eurostar relocated to the freshly-renovated London St Pancras International station, which sits right in the centre of the capital. As 2007 drew to its end, there was more to celebrate for Eurostar, which.
posted a net profit of €1m for the first time since starting services.
OCTOBER 2010: NEW CORPORATE STRUCTURE AND A £700M INVESTMENT IN TRAINS
Profits continued to grow in the following years, allowing Eurostar to gradually reduce its debt and change its corporate structure in 2010.
Having previously been operated by three independent companies in Belgium, France and the UK, the service was ten brought together under a new single organisation – called Eurostar International Limited – in
During the first month of its existence, the new company announced plans to invest £700m in refurbishing its existing fleet and purchasing ten Siemens Velaro e320 trainsets.
NOVEMBER 2014: 20TH ANNIVERSARY AND NEW TRAINS
The latest version of the e320 trains was the star attraction during the company’s 20th-anniversary celebrations, which took place in November 2014. The trains can now reach a top speed of 186mph, slowing down to 100mph when crossing the tunnel.
NOVEMBER 2019: 25-YEAR CELEBRATIONS
As it celebrates 25 years in pompous style, talks of extending the line to Germany are now reportedly taking place as part of wider plans to merge with European rail operator Thalys.