Approximately 150 million passengers have sped through the Channel Tunnel since its historic opening more than 20 years ago. In celebration, Eurostar is adding 17 new trains to its fleet – a $1.8-billion project. By the end of this year, the journey between London, Paris and Brussels will be faster, sleeker and much more wired. For the external livery and interiors, the rail service turned to Pininfarina, the Italian company best known for outfitting Ferraris, but with a long history of transit design. The new trains, named e320 for their 320-kilometre-per-hour top speed, are primed to offer a luxurious experience, including a gourmet menu developed by a Michelin-starred chef.
Fabio Filippini, design director for Pininfarina, explains that “the vision we have is a very pure, clean environment with fluid shapes that create a sense of flow.” Ergonomic chairs will feel more spacious and will be fitted with personal lighting, USB outlets and free WiFi access. In the buffet car, the bar, walls and ceiling are defined by sinuous curves. Another stylish upgrade will be speed: although not the fastest in Europe (Italy’s AGV .italo trains travel at least 40 kilometres per hour faster), the e320 will shave 15 minutes from the London-Paris commute. Frequent travellers will also appreciate the new model’s electronic signaling, which means more compatibility with rail lines throughout Europe, allowing commuters to expand their trips to additional stops in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Along with an extended range, the e320 can also carry up to 900 passengers.