British Rail Class 373
|British Rail Class 373 Eurostar
The interior of a Class 373
|In service||1993 - present (Test)
14 November 1994 - present (Passenger Services)
|Constructed||1992 - 1996|
|Number built||31 trainsets (Three Capitals)
7 trainsets (North of London)
|Formation||20 cars (Three Capitals)
16 cars (North of London)
|Capacity||750 seats (Three Capitals)
558 seats (North of London)
|Car body construction||Steel|
|Car length||18.7 m (61 ft 4 in) (middle)
22.15 m (72 ft 8 in) (driving)
21.84 m (71 ft 8 in) (powered middle)
|Width||2.81 m (9 ft 3 in)|
|Maximum speed||300 km/h (186 mph) (Service)
334.7 km/h (208.0 mph) (Record)
|Weight||752 t (740 long tons; 829 short tons) (Three Capitals, empty)
815 t (802 long tons; 898 short tons) (Three Capitals, loaded)
665 t (654 long tons; 733 short tons) (North of London)
|Power output||12.2 MW (16,400 hp) (25 kV)
5.7 MW (7,600 hp) (3000 V)
3.4 MW (4,600 hp) (750 V)
410 kN (92,000 lbf) Starting @ 25 kV
350 kN (79,000 lbf) Starting @ 1.5 kV & 750 V
220 kN (49,000 lbf) Continuous @200 km/h (124 mph) & 25 kV
|Electric system(s)||Overhead lines
25 kV 50 Hz AC
3000 V DC, 1500 V DC
750 V DC (Not used)
|Current collection method||Pantograph
Contact shoe (removed)
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The British Rail Class 373 or TGV TMST train is an electric multiple unit that operates Eurostar's high-speed rail service between Great Britain, France and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel. Part of the TGV family, it has a smaller cross-section to fit the smaller loading gauge in Great Britain, it was originally able to operate on the UK third rail network, and it has extensive fireproofing in case of fire in the tunnel. This is both the longest—387 metres (1,270 ft)—and fastest train in regular UK passenger service, operating at speeds of up to 300 km/h (190 mph).
Known as the TransManche Super Train (Cross-channel Super Train) during development until start of service in 1993, the train is designated Class 373 under the British TOPS classification system and series 373000 TGV in France. It was built by GEC-Alsthom (now Alstom) at its sites in La Rochelle (France), Belfort (France) and Washwood Heath (UK) and by Brugeoise et Nivelles (BN, now part of Bombardier) in Brugge.
- 1 Development and construction
- 2 Current operators
- 3 Former operators
- 4 Fleet details
- 5 Technical details
- 6 Significant events
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
Development and construction
Two types were constructed:
- 31 "Three Capitals" sets consisting of two power cars and 18 carriages, including two with powered bogies. They are 387.18 metres (1,270.3 ft) long and have 750 seats: 206 in first class, 544 in standard class. The length of a complete set is dictated by safety regulations in the Channel Tunnel; as the distance between consecutive cross passages is 375 m, this ensures that were a Eurostar train to have to stop in the Tunnel, it would always be next to a cross passage.
- Seven "North of London" trains with 14 carriages, including two carriages with powered bogies. They are 312.36 metres (1,024.8 ft) in length and have 558 seats: 114 in first class, 444 in standard class). These were designed to operate the proposed Regional Eurostar services.
The sets were ordered by the railway companies involved: 16 by SNCF, four by NMBS/SNCB, and 18 by British Rail, of which seven were the North of London sets. Upon privatisation of British Rail, the BR sets were bought by London and Continental Railways, which named its subsidiary Eurostar (U.K.) Ltd., now managed by a consortium of the National Express Group (40%), SNCF (35%), SNCB (15%) and British Airways (10%).
The first set was built at Belfort in 1992. Identified as "PS1" (Pre-Series 1), it was formed of two power cars and seven coaches, and was delivered for test running in January 1993. Its first powered runs were between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and it was transferred to the UK for third-rail DC tests in June 1993. Full-length pre-series train PS2 was completed in May 1993.
An extra power car, numbered 3999, was built as a spare. This was required for a couple of years, when 3999 was renumbered and replaced another power car whilst it underwent rebuilding at Le Landy. It is usually held at Temple Mills depot in London.
Third rail test train
To test the third rail shoes needed on the Southern Region lines in Great Britain, an eight-vehicle locomotive-hauled train was used in early 1994, consisting of a Class 73 locomotive, a converted Class 33 locomotive acting as a Driving Brake Van (classified NZ under TOPS), and six carriages from Class 438 (4TC) multiple units 8007, 8023 and 8028
The 27 sets still operating on Eurostar were refurbished in 2004/2005 with a new interior, designed by Philippe Starck. The grey-yellow look in Standard class and the grey-red look in First class have been replaced with a more grey-brown look in Standard, and a grey-burnt orange in First class.
In 2008, Eurostar announced that it was beginning the process to institute a mid-life update, which will not include units used exclusively in France by SNCF. As a part of the update process, the Italian company Pininfarina has been contracted to redesign the interiors; the first refurbished Eurostar is not due in service until 2012. The refurbishment could also include an engine maintenance and a new livery. Eurostar plans for the process to be complete by 2014, allowing the fleet to remain in service beyond 2020.
Maintenance is carried out at depots close to the three capital cities. With the opening of High Speed 1 on 14 November 2007, the depot for London was changed from North Pole International depot adjacent to the Great Western Main Line in west London, to Temple Mills depot near Stratford International in east London. In France the trains are maintained at Le Landy depot in northern Paris, and in Belgium at Brussels Forest/Vorst depot.
The bulk of operations are on Eurostar's core routes from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels South (French: Bruxelles-Midi; Dutch: Brussel-Zuid). A daily return service operates between London and Disneyland Paris. In summer, sets equipped for operation on French lignes classiques (classic lines) operate to Avignon Centre, in winter on "ski-train" services to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
The trains can operate at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on high-speed lines and 160 km/h (99 mph) in the Channel Tunnel; there is an automatic application of the brakes if the speed exceeds 315 km/h (196 mph), or 170 km/h (106 mph) when the pantograph is in the tunnel setting. Speeds within the Channel Tunnel are dictated by air resistance, energy (heat) dissipation and the need to fit in with other train services operating at lower speeds. In October 2010, Eurostar ordered 10 Class 374 "Eurostar e320" trainsets from Siemens to operate new routes and on existing routes alongside the 373 fleet
|This section is outdated. (March 2014)|
Three of the Three Capitals sets owned by SNCF are in French domestic use on the TGV network, mainly between Paris and Lille in a variation on the standard silver and blue TGV livery. They sets were built to the same specification as the rest of the fleet, which saw them initially used on international services as well as French domestic routes. Later, the third rail pick up shoes and yellow front warning panels were removed. In 2007, SNCF enhanced the fleet by leasing six and a half of the seven redundant North of London sets, with one half-set remaining with Eurostar. The North of London sets were intended to provide Regional Eurostar services from Continental Europe to and from north of London, using the West Coast Main Line and the East Coast Main Line. These never came to fruition because of long proposed journey times and the proliferation of budget airlines offering lower fares. There were also issues with the relatively crude design of British Rail overhead lines and the logistics of getting the trains across London. SNCF's lease of the sets was scheduled to last until 2011, with an option for a further two years.
Five of the North of London sets were leased to GNER in 2000 to operate White Rose services to York, and later to Leeds. They had all Eurostar branding removed, two in a mostly white livery and three sets full-length GNER deep-navy vinyl wraps. On rare occasions sets were formed of a GNER and an unbranded Eurostar halfset. The lease ended in December 2005. Due to limitations in the power supply on the Hertford Loop, only one set was permitted to operate there at a time. They were restricted to run between King's Cross and York and later to Leeds because of gauging on the bridges approaching Newcastle. They were not permitted to operate to Skipton or Bradford because the electrical infrastructure past Leeds was insufficient. Manually locked selective door opening was used at shorter platforms. In some places on the ECML they were restricted to 110 mph (177 km/h), shown with use of blue "TGV" signs next to the tracks, or required to only use a single pantograph.
Each power car has a four-digit number starting with "3" (3xxx). This designates the train as a Mark 3 TGV (Mark 1 being SNCF TGV Sud-Est; Mark 2 being SNCF TGV Atlantique). The second digit denotes the country of ownership:
- 30xx UK
- 31xx Belgium
- 32xx France
- 33xx Regional Eurostar
Each half-set is numbered separately:
|Class||No. built||Unit numbers||Cars per half-set[e 1]||Description||Operators||Current units||Services operated|
|Class 373/1||22||3001–3022||10||BR sets||Eurostar||3001–3022||London-Paris,
|Class 373/2||14||3301–3314||8||BR's NoL sets||3301–14|
|Spare||1||3999||1||Spare power car only||Eurostar||3999||Currently stored at Temple Mills Depot|
- including power car.
- Avignon and Alps ski-train services are worked by SNCF quad-voltage sets.
Each set is formed of two power cars and 18 coaches:
|7||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
|8||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
|9||Standard Premier/Business Premier||25||-||1(D)||-|
|10||Standard Premier/Business Premier||25||-||1(D)||-|
|11||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
|12||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
North of London sets are formed of two power cars and 14 coaches:
|6||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
|7||Standard Premier/Business Premier||26||-||1(D)||-|
|8||Standard Premier/Business Premier||26||-||1(D)||-|
|9||Standard Premier/Business Premier||39||-||1||-|
All train sets were built as tri-voltage, able to operate on 25 kV 50 Hz AC (LGVs, Eurotunnel, High Speed 1, UK overhead electrified lines) and 3 kV DC (Belgian classic lines) using pantographs, and 750 V DC (UK third rail network) using third-rail pickup shoes. The shoes were retracted when operating from overhead power and prototypes were used for testing. After the opening of High Speed 1, overhead electrification is used throughout and the third rail shoes were removed. Five of the SNCF-owned sets are quadri-voltage, able to operate from 1,500 V DC (French lignes classiques) in the south of France, used on London–Avignon and ski services.
British-designed asynchronous traction motors are used. There are four powered axles in each power car and two powered axles in the outer bogie of the adjacent passenger carriage (a layout used on the original SNCF TGV Sud-Est (PSE) sets) giving 12 powered axles. Each set draws up to 16MW with 12 MW (16,000 hp) of traction power, but the lowest power-to-weight ratio in the TGV family.
The class uses five different standards of overhead: domestic catenary in each of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom; fixed-height catenary on LGV lines; and taller catenary in the Channel Tunnel, designed to accommodate double-deck car-carrying trains and roll-on roll-off heavy goods vehicle trains. The driver must lower and then raise the pantograph during the transition between catenary systems.
The class have multiple signalling systems, leading to a cluttered control desk. These include
- Automatic Warning System, the British signalling system (induction-based), used in the Ashford area
- Train Protection & Warning System, the warning system that supplements AWS, used in the Ashford area
- Transmission Voie-Machine (TVM), used on lignes à grande vitesse, on Eurotunnel tracks, and on High Speed 1.
- Contrôle de vitesse par balises, used between Paris Gare du Nord and the LGV Nord, on French lignes classiques and the HS1-connected throat around St Pancras. It is electro-mechanical with fixed radio beacons.
- TBL, the Belgian signalling system (electro-mechanical), used between Brussels-South and HSL 1
At high speed, the driver cannot see lineside signals reliably. With the TVM signalling used on the high-speed lines, the target speed for the end of the current block is displayed with a flashing indication for the next block if it is a different speed. Auxiliary signalling information, including the location of neutral sections in the overhead supply and pantograph adjustment zones, is displayed in cab and by the lineside. The operation of circuit breakers over neutral sections is handled automatically on TVM-signalled lines only, and pantograph adjustments must always be performed by the driver.
Bogies and couplings
The class was designed to meet Channel Tunnel safety regulations, and consists of two independent half-sets, each with its own power car. Most of the trailers rest on Jacobs bogies shared between adjacent carriages, supporting both of them, with the cars next to the power cars and the two central cars (coaches 9 and 10 in a full-length set) not articulated. Non-shared bogies are coupled with Scharfenberg couplers, providing three points for separation in the event of an emergency in the Channel Tunnel. The electrical supply cables between a power car and the first carriage are designed to break apart during an emergency separation. In the event of a serious fire in the Tunnel the passengers would be transferred into the undamaged half of the train, which would then be uncoupled from the damaged half and driven out of the tunnel. If the undamaged part is the rear half of the train, this would be driven by the Chef du Train who is a fully authorised driver and occupies the rear driving cab in the tunnel for this purpose. Due to limitations on driving hours, the driver and Chef du Train exchange roles for the return journey.
The articulated design is advantageous during a derailment as the carriages will tend to stay aligned. On non-articulated trains couplings may break and the carriages may jackknife. A disadvantage of articulation is that it is difficult to remove individual carriages for maintenance. While the power cars can be uncoupled, specialised depot equipment is needed to split carriages by lifting the entire train at once. Once uncoupled, one of the carriage ends is left without a bogie at the split, so a bogie frame is required to support it.
The class has three braking systems:
- The 12 motors can provide rheostatic braking.
- All non-powered axles have four disc brakes.
- All powered axles have clasp brakes operating on the wheel tread.
A train travelling at 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) can be brought to stand in 65 seconds, during which time it covers about 2.7 km (1.7 miles)
Accidents and incidents
On 5 June 2000, a set from Paris to London derailed on the LGV Nord at 290 km/h (180 mph). Fourteen people were treated for light injuries or shock, with no major injures or fatalities. The articulated nature was credited with maintaining stability during the incident and the train stayed upright. After investigation, the incident was blamed on a component of the transmission between the motors and axles coming loose. To reduce the unsprung mass, TGV trains have the motors attached to the train rather than the bogies. In order for the train to be able to go around curves a sliding "tripod" assembly is used, which became dislodged.
There have been several minor incidents. In October 1994, there were teething problems relating to the start of operations. The first preview train, carrying 400 members of the press and media, was delayed for two hours owing to technical issues. On 29 May 2002 a set was sent towards Victoria instead of London Waterloo, causing it to arrive 25 minutes late. The signalling error that led to the incorrect routeing was stated to have caused "no risk" as a result.
During the night of 18–19 December 2009, there was heavy snow causing widespread disruption to roads, railways and airports across northern Europe. Five trains failed in the Channel Tunnel because snow in the engine compartment was melting due to the warmer temperatures in the tunnel. The resulting water caused electrical and control system faults. Eurostar commissioned an independent report to evaluate what went wrong and how future events could be prevented or better managed. The report's recommendations included:
- Increased number of diesel rescue locomotives with exhaust filtration to be on standby at each end of the tunnel.
- Major changes to the power cars to prevent snow ingress into electrical compartments.
- Better staff training.
- Improved communication internally and with other stakeholders (Eurotunnel and emergency services).
- Better information provision to passengers.
The vast majority of the recommendations have been implemented as of 23 October 2012[update].
On 30 July 2003, on the opening press run of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Section 1, set 3313/14 set a new British rail speed record of 334.7 kilometres per hour (208.0 mph), breaking the previous record of 259.5 kilometres per hour (161.2 mph) set by an Advanced Passenger Train on 20 December 1979. 9/ On 16 May 2006 set 3209/10 created a record for the longest non-stop high-speed journey when it made the 1,421-kilometre (883 mi) journey from London to Cannes in 7 hours 25 minutes. This was a result of Eurostar's partnership with the Da Vinci Code film. The train carried actors Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and director Ron Howard, who had jointly named the train The Da Vinci Code prior to departing for the film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
On 4 September 2007 the first revenue train to use High Speed 1 to St Pancras set a new speed record: it left Paris at 09:44 BST and arrived at St Pancras two hours three minutes and 39 seconds later. Officials aboard recorded speeds of up to 325 kilometres per hour (202 mph) in France and 314 kilometres per hour (195 mph) in Britain.
On several occasions sets appeared at special events and displays, such as at Lille Flandres in 1995,[ex 1] Rotterdam Centraal Station on 6 April 1996,[ex 2] Berlin-Grunewald station for Eurailspeed 1998,[ex 3] Madrid Chamartín railway station for Eurailspeed 2002[ex 4] and at the York National Railway Museum for the Railfest 200 celebrations in 2004.[ex 5]
To celebrate ten years of Eurostar service, a barge was floated down the River Thames in London on 16 November 2004,[ex 6] with a power car on board, specially painted by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell. Named "Language of Places on Eurostar" by Langlands and Bell, it consisted of the three-letter "destination codes for all the places Eurostar goes to or connects to". The barge went under Tower Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament and moored beside the museum-warship HMS Belfast.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Class 373.|
- Eurailspeed '95: half-set 3201:55
- Rotterdam CS open day: full-set 3309/3310
- Berlin Eurailspeed '98: full-set 3303/3304
- Madrid Eurailspeed 2002: power car 3212 + coaches, transported using Iberian gauge transporter trailers via Portbou–Barcelona–Valencia–Alcazar on 12 October 2002
- York Railfest 200: power car 3313 only
- London floating installation: power car 3307 only
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- Spec Sheet; French
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- Headline News. "Eurostar pushes the boat out for its tenth birthday". The Railway Magazine (IPC Media) 151 (1245): 11. January 2005. "3307 was craned onto barge Tarra Marique, then moored alongside HMS Belfast … delayed … those killed or injured in the Ufton derailment"
- 2007-08-10, Private email reply from Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell
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- "Short write-up of the journey". goeurope.com. Retrieved 2009-08-03.