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With competition looming, Eurostar eyes expansion


With at least two competitors filing plans for competing Channel Tunnel services, Eurostar, currently the only tunnel operator is buying new trains and planning to expand its network.

Eurostar has ordered 50 new high-speed trains, which will allow it to expand the fleet from 51 to 67, and to retire a number of older trains, mostly from the services it added when it absorbed its Thalys subsidiary last year, adding a number of destinations in Germany and Belgium to its map.

Eurostar chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave told a press conference that the company wants to develop more destinations as well as to develop "open hubs" built around major air terminals and existing networks, but did not give details. Last year, it carried 18.6 million passengers and has a goal of 30 million by 2030.

The company has also vowed to ensure that all trains run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. In the Netherlands, Eurostar trains already run on 100% wind power and in Belgium it has an agreement with the national rail infrastructure operator to explore solar power projects.

New entrants with serious plans for Channel Tunnel service include Evolyn, which plans to compete on the core Paris-London service, and Heurotrain, which has filed papers for routes to the Netherlands.

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