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Frequently asked questions

What, why and when – the basics of our new fleet programme

In one of the most exciting chapters of Eurostar’s history, we’re now ready to welcome our brand new trains to the fleet. We know you’ll have plenty of questions about them, so we’ve put together some answers for you. They’ll cover everything about the e300, our newly remodeled and redesigned train, and the e320, our brand new trains.

How many new trains will be in your new fleet?

Our fleet will be around the same size, as we've bought 17 new e320s from Siemens and we are refurbishing some of our original trains into e300s.

What are the main benefits of the new trains?

All our e300s and e320s have modern, stylish and comfortable interiors, a more efficient seat and table layout, onboard wi-fi and entertainment and information screens.

Our e320s will also be able to carry more travellers, with a capacity of up to 894 people – that’s almost twice as much capacity as a jumbo jet. They’re also compatible with European Train Control Systems, so they’re ready to travel far and wide from the moment they hit the tracks. It’s also very important to us that everyone can travel comfortably with Eurostar, so our new trains are much better designed for passengers with reduced mobility.

What are the differences between the e300 and e320?

To put it simply, the e320 is a brand new train and our e300 is an original train that’s been completely remodeled and redesigned, inside and out. Although there will be small differences in the interiors – both designed by Pininfarina – you’ll know you’ve walked onto a freshly made train and experience the same huge improvement in comfort and efficiency.

Here are the three main differences you might notice:

  • The e320 has 16 coaches and the e300 has 18
  • The e320 can carry 894 travellers, while the e300 carries 750
  • The new e320s are able to travel to areas of the European network that our current trains cannot, like Amsterdam, so they’ll play a huge part in reaching our expansion goals.

Tickets and sales

Will there be a difference in fare prices between the different trains?

No, they’ll be priced in exactly the same way. Just like airlines, which usually have mixed fleets, travellers will pay the same price for their ticket regardless of which train they’re travelling on. That’s because they can expect the same fantastic service we’re known for on all our trains.

How will seats be allocated on the new trains?

Seats will be allocated just as they are now, with algorithms to determine the best seating plan for each journey.

Are the new seat maps available on GDS, Opera, Elgar and EDCS?

The new seat maps are available on all our distribution systems. The right seat map for each train type will be displayed automatically.

How will travellers see the seat maps?

Whether it’s on eurostar.com or our other distribution systems, travellers will see the seat map that corresponds to the train they’re travelling on. The seat map for the e300 and our original trains is exactly the same.

Will agents know which type of train is being booked?

Yes. The seat maps on GDS, Elgar and Opera will show whether a particular train is an e320, or an e300 or original train. The train type will be visible in the list of available services on Elgar (TGT = TMST/e300, TGR = e320) or on GDS (TRN = TMST/e300, TRS = e320). Everything else on the booking system will stay the same.

How will the seating plans work in applications like GDS and Galileo?

The whole booking system will work exactly as it does at the moment, except that the seat map will change depending on what type of train is running.

Will seat maps be available on SBTs and GDSs, and will the seat reassignment commands stay the same?

Seat assignment commands in GDS are staying the same. Most SBTs don’t support rail seat maps, but ones that do will have e320 seat maps. Galileo GUI Smartpoint is ready and was deployed in September. In October we also amended the Galileo native/green screen to handle the e320. Sabre is updating its Eurostar seat map template for the e320 and we expect this to be completed by the end of the year.

Will the new trains have more solo seats?

Yes, there’ll be more solo seats. The e320 has 78, while the e300 has 66. This was specially requested by a lot of our business travellers, so we made sure we could provide more opportunities for private working and unwinding.

There are no fold-down seats on the e320 – does this mean e320 trains won’t be overbooked?

We’re planning to carry on overbooking as usual, but we’ll move the seat allocation process from the onboard team to the station team, as we’ve recently trialled. This means we’ll be able to allocate seats to overbooked customers before they board our trains.

The design of our new e320 trains means they won’t have fold down seats, but this won’t affect our overbooking policy, as we’ve reviewed the process entirely.

From now on, if a traveller makes a booking and we’re not able to assign a seat, they’ll be told to go straight to a member of the Eurostar team when they arrive at the station. If we’re not able to assign a seat at that stage, we’ll ask them to go through the usual security and passport checks before going straight to the information desk. We’ll also give them a flyer detailing the process, which we’ll soon send to you for your reference. Once check-in is closed, any available seats are released and we can allocate them to the traveller, so they’ll receive a new ticket with their seat and coach number. In the rare event that there are no available seats, our team will discuss the available options and compensation policy with the traveller.

Will customers know in advance which type of train they’ll be travelling on?

We won’t be advertising which type of train will be used for each timetabled journey. The reason for this is that a scheduled train can potentially be swapped at the last minute for operational reasons. So, as they do now, travellers are buying tickets by train time, not train type.

Don’t forget that the likelihood of travelling on an e320 or e300 will increase rapidly over the next two years with the introduction of more and more new trains. By the end of 2016, all trains on the London-Paris route will be e320s and by Q4 2017, 70% of trains on the London-Brussels route will be e320s and e300s. By March 2018, our entire fleet will be made up of new trains.

Can customers request to travel on one of the new trains?

We know how excited some of our travellers are about the new trains, but it’s important to let them know that, in exceptional circumstances, the type of train scheduled can change at any time. This means we’re not able to guarantee that they’ll travel on an e320, and it’s important that they know this.

Can the booking engine distinguish between the three types of trains?

The booking systems will only be able to distinguish between e320s and the other two trains. That’s because the e300 and original trains have the same seating plan, which means only the e320 will differ. So, it won’t be possible to book travellers specifically on an e300 or an original train.

Will the train type be shown on tickets?

We’re not planning to show different train types, as this is subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Our routes and destinations

Why are the e320s only going to run on the Paris route?

The London-Paris route is our busiest and trains are often very full at the weekends. Since our e320s can carry more travellers, it makes sense to use them on this route, so we can offer more tickets to more people. As more e320s arrive, we’ll begin to introduce them on our Brussels route and, later on, our other routes. Our e320s have been specifically designed to travel across Europe, so we’ll have exclusively e320s on our new Amsterdam route.

Will the e320 run on the ski route?

Our new trains won’t run on our ski routes initially.

Will there be shorter travelling times?

While the e320 can travel faster, the same speed restrictions apply on the tracks. This means that journey times will stay the same.

Will the new trains run on upcoming routes?

Our e320s are specially designed to travel across the European rail network, unlike our original trains. So, as we develop new routes and destinations, we’ll decide on the best type of train to suit that journey from a commercial, technical and operational point of view.

Will the e320 run on the new Amsterdam route?

Yes, they will. While our e320s are specially designed to travel across the European rail network, including to Amsterdam, our e300s and original trains do not have the technical specs to use the signalling systems in the Netherlands. This means we’ll only be running e320s to Amsterdam.

The operational side

What’s the timeline for introducing the new trains?

Our first e300 was introduced in September 2015 and trains will continue to arrive in 2016 and 2017.

We’ll start introducing our new e320 train in November 2015, starting with four daily trains on the Paris-London route.

By Easter 2016, we are aiming to have up to 8 sets in commercial service and by Q3 2016 the first ten sets will be in commercial service. By March 2018, all 17 e320s will be delivered.

Will the e320 be able to stop at Ashford international?

At the moment, Ashford International does not have the right signalling system to work with the e320. We’re working on a solution, so rest assured that we’re very much committed to Ashford as one of our destinations and hoping to run all our trains there.

What happens if you have to change equipment or do a set swap?

Quite simply, we won’t set swap between the two types of trains unless there are very exceptional circumstances.

If we know of an equipment change more than 48 hours in advance, we’ll handle the situation in a similar way to the current process, asking travel agents and distributors to request that clients re-print their tickets before they travel. If we have between 24 and 48 hours’ notice, travellers will be asked at the check-in gate to go to the manual check-in desk, where we’ll give them a new tickets. In the case of an equipment change on the day of travel, the station and operations teams will re-accommodate travellers at check-in.

What happens if you have to change from a fully booked e320 to an e300 train?

This could only happen in exceptional circumstances and we will always aim to replace an e320 with another e320.

Features and more

Will there be any family areas?

While there won’t be dedicated family areas on the e300 or the e320, both have been designed with families in mind, with large luggage racks and baby changing areas spread evenly throughout the train.

What are the best coaches for families?

We’ve made sure that all our coaches are designed for families, with baby changing areas throughout the train.

Will there be more baby changing areas?

There’ll be a lot more baby changing areas, making for a much better experience for travellers with small children. There are six on the e300 and twelve on the e320.

What are the best coaches for groups on the e320?

For groups in Standard, seats in coaches 5, 6 and 7 are best. Be sure to avoid coaches 11 and 12, as these are often used for registered luggage.

For groups in Standard Premier and Business Premier, choose the rear coaches – 2 or 15, depending on the direction of travel. Coaches 3 and 14 are best avoided for large groups.

Where are the plug sockets and are they UK and European?

There are sockets at every seat on the e300 and the e320. In Standard on the e300, the sockets are between the backs of seats in front of you, and on the e320 they’re between your seat and the one next to you. In Business Premier and Standard Premier, the sockets are at the base of your reading light on both the e300 and e320.

Where will the wheelchair spaces be?

In both the e320 and the e300, there are wheelchair spaces in the Standard Premier and Business Premier. On the e320, there are two spaces in coach 3 and two in coach 14. There are also four spaces in the e300, in coaches 9 and 10.

How do seats on the new trains compare to the current ones?

Our seats have been specially designed to give you a wonderfully comfortable journey, with all the attention to detail you expect from Eurostar. Every seat reclines without disturbing the traveller behind you, and the recline is deeper in Business Premier and Standard Premier. All our seats are ergonomically designed for plenty of lumbar support and the e320 has extendable seat cushions for our longer-legged travellers.

Every seat also has a power socket, with a selection of Continental and UK types throughout each coach. Business Premier and Standard Premier seats have a USB charging point for smartphones and other devices. These seats also have a coat hook, reading lamp, vanity mirror and device holder, cup holder, drop down table, laptop pocket and more seatback storage, depending on whether you’re sitting at a table.

Why are the Standard Premier and Business Premier coaches at either end of the e320?

Good question. Quite simply, having the Standard Premier and Business Premier coaches at each end of the train gives our travellers plenty of peace and quiet, without other travellers walking through the coach. We also found that separating the bar buffet from the galley helps our Business Premier and Standard Premier teams focus on their specific travellers.

Wi-fi and more

How will the entertainment work on board? Is it free?

We know how much our travellers are looking forward to staying connected en route, so we’ve made sure we’ll have free wi-fi throughout the train.

When travellers download the Eurostar app before they travel, they can use their own devices to browse news, weather and information about Eurostar, as well as a special selection of brilliant entertainment.

Travellers can download the app using their own data allowance or by connecting to the free station wi-fi. Our onboard wi-fi won’t allow access to app stores, so it’s important to encourage travellers to do this before they board.

Why isn’t the wi-fi and entertainment system ready for launch?

Now that we’re able to run our new trains in a real life setting, we can do all the final live tests with our travellers. Once we’re happy with how it’s working, we’ll switch the wi-fi and entertainment system on before Christmas.

How do I access on board entertainment?

Once you’re on the train, you’ll be able to connect to wi-fi and a great range of entertainment, including TV programmes, movies, news and more. If you’ve forgotten your headphones, just head to Café Métropole to pick up a pair.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to your network settings.
  2. Find your wi-fi settings and choose EurostarTrainsWiFi.
  3. A form will pop up. Just fill it in to register and click Submit.
  4. Click Connect on the next page and you’re online.
  5. If you’re on a mobile or Android tablet, open the Eurostar app for all our TV programmes, movies, games and more. If you’re on a laptop or iPad, just go to onboard.eurostar.com.

If the registration or Connect page doesn’t pop up automatically, just go to register.onboard.eurostar.com in your web browser.

Why do you need my name and email address?

You’ll need to enter your name and a valid email address to log into our wi-fi. Here you can opt in to receive news and information from Eurostar, but if you don’t tick the box you won’t be added to our database. To find out more, see our Privacy Policy.

Will wi-fi be free?

Yes, it’ll be free to all customers as soon as it launches, along with live news, weather and information about Eurostar and a special selection of entertainment, all on the Eurostar app.

How will the wi-fi work? Can they browse the web and check emails?

Behind the scenes, our internet connection will be delivered using mobile networks. As such, connectivity will vary, but the good news is that 80% of the London-Paris and the London-Brussels routes are covered and there will be a seamless switchover at international borders.

To make sure our internet connection doesn’t get overloaded and slow down, we’ll have a fair use policy in place and we’ll block websites like Netflix or YouTube that use up a lot of data and bandwidth.

To help us continuously improve our wi-fi service, we’ll monitor customer use and feedback and adjust our settings if we need to.

Luggage, bikes and more

How much luggage space is there on the new train?

While designing our new trains, we made sure that we created as much space as we could without compromising on other features. Thanks to the clever design of our interiors, there will be a bit more luggage space overall, however the current luggage policy remains the same. Our e300s will also have luggage holds. There’ll be no change for our travellers regarding registered luggage.

The e320s don’t have luggage holds – where will registered luggage be stored?

We’re not changing our group or registered luggage services at all. Travellers will be able to use the service in the same way as they always have, and our EuroDespatch team will stow the bags in secure containers in the trains’ luggage racks.

Are there changes to registered luggage?

No, you’ll be able to register your luggage as usual. Group luggage will be handled in the same way, but on the e320 EuroDespatch will store the bags on the luggage racks in the coaches, as they do now on some of our trains.

Passengers with reduced mobility and special assistance

Will special assistance be improved on the new trains?

Absolutely. Both the e300 and e320 are better suited for travellers who need extra assistance, with four wheelchair spaces and companion seats on board. Since we’re still using our original trains, we’ll continue to sell only two wheelchair spaces per train, just in case we have to switch trains for operational reasons.

Will the new trains be able to carry mobility scooters?

Smaller mobility scooters will fit in the wheelchair spaces on the e320, but we won’t be able to carry larger mobility scooters. This is because there’s no luggage hold on the e320. Our e300s and original trains can still carry larger scooters.

Where will the wheelchair spaces be?

In both new trains, there are wheelchair spaces in the Standard Premier and Business Premier coaches. On the e320, there are two spaces in coach 3 and an additional two in coach 14. There are also four spaces in the e300 in coaches 9 and 10.