Date: 30 July 2003

Release: 54/04




Eurostar, the fast train service linking the UK with France and Belgium, today (30 July 2003) shattered the speed record for the fastest ever train in the UK. A Eurostar train reached 208.0 mph (334.7 km/h) running through Kent on Section 1 of the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL Section 1).


The previous UK rail speed record was set by the Advanced Passenger Train on 20 December 1979 at 162.2mph (259.5 km/h).


The record-breaking run (by Eurostar train number 3313/14) took place during safety testing on CTRL Section 1. The driver was Alan Pears, 35, from Kent who has worked in the railway industry for 18 years and has been a Eurostar driver for the last eight years. The Eurostar train reached its normal full speed of 186 mph (300 km/h) near Nashenden Valley and then accelerated to 208.0 mph (334.7km/h) to set a new UK record.


The first passenger-carrying trains will run on the CTRL Section 1 from 28 September and will reach speeds of up to 186 mph (300 km/h) making the journey time from London's Waterloo International station to Paris, Lille and Brussels up to 20 minutes quicker (fastest journey times of 1h40 to Lille; 2h20 to Brussels; and 2h35 to Paris).


Eurostar's Director of Communications, Paul Charles, said: "Setting a new UK speed record by reaching 208.0 mph is a fantastic achievement. It is a testament to the excellence in civil engineering that has been a hallmark of the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Eurostar's passengers will see immediate benefits when the line opens on 28 September with faster journey times and further, improved levels of reliability."

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Notes to editors:


1. The final section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is due for completion in 2007. From 2007, high speed Eurostar services will be available from London St Pancras direct to the centre of Paris in a journey time of just 2 hours 15 minutes and Brussels just 2 hours from London.


2. London & Continent Railways (LCR) is building both sections of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through subsidiaries, Union Railways (South) for Section 1 and Union Railways (North) for Section 2. On behalf of LCR, the new line is being designed and project-managed by Rail Link Engineering, a consortium of Bechtel, Arup, Halcrow and Systra, all of whom are LCR shareholders.


3. For more information contact the Eurostar press office on 020 7922 4494/25 or email at


For further information on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link contact the CTRL press office on 020 7681 5119/5167, or 0845 60 40 246 if calling outside office hours. Alternatively e-mail us at or visit our web site at