Was It Fast For You? Eurostar Shoots to London in Record Time

The Eurostar train service between Paris and London almost broke two hours today. The new high-speed line might help it better compete with low-cost airlines.

The Eurostar train that connects Britain and continental Europe through the Channel Tunnel broke a speed record Tuesday on its Paris to London route.

Filled with journalists and public officials for the record-breaking attempt, the train completed its journey between Paris's Gare du Nord terminal and the new St. Pancras train station in central London in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds.

Normal time for the journey between the French station and London's Waterloo International station is 2 hours 35 minutes. The service will switch to the new St. Pancras station when it begins public operations on Nov. 14.

The train left France at 10:44 a.m. Paris time and treated its passengers to free coffee and champagne until it arrived at 11:47 a.m. London time in a station which was empty except for a loud orchestra playing a welcome.

The train is now running faster due to improvements made on the British side of the line's service. Up until now, the train was limited to lower speeds as it shared lines with slower moving local trains. A new 68 mile (109 km) track known as High Speed 1 was specifically built for the Eurostar at a cost of 5.8 billion pounds ($11.7 billion, €8.6 billion) on the stretch between the coastal city of Folkestone and its destination in London.

The train will now reach a speed of 186 mph (298 kph) on the British stretch, while continuing to reach speeds of over 200 mph (320 kph) on French soil.

The 18-coach train trimmed itself down a bit for the speed test by leaving behind its food trolleys and running with half as many passengers as usual.

The rail company is attempting to compete with low-cost airlines by minimizing the time difference in the different forms of travel, while at the same time promoting the rail service as hassle-free and environmentally friendly.

jtw/ap/reuters

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