In fields of Barley

Rorymacve

Teignmouth, United Kingdom

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Like eating a croissant in an old English Inn, the French built 186mph Class 373 Eurostar sets certainly did look out of place when they used to run at 70mph through the barley fields of Southern England before the creation of High Speed One in 2007, which saw these trains work at their full potential for the first time here in the United Kingdom.

The Class 373 Eurostar sets are mechanically the same as any other TGV set, apart from the fact that they have been built to a British loading gauge, meaning a lower roof and thinner body. The sets consist of 18 carriages sandwiched between two powercars, with full trains being made up of two 9-car sets attached to each other. These 9-car sets like other TGVs have articulated bogies, which means that during the event of a crash these trains will remain together rather than with individual carriages which can break away, making them more vulnerable to destruction. This point was proved when a Eurostar set fell down an unmarked World War I trench on which the High Speed Line from Brussels to Lille was built, causing the train to derail at 186mph, but remain both upright and fully connected, so there were no injuries sustained.

Beginning operation in 1994, the Eurostar sets worked with a 3rd Rail shoe when operating in the United Kingdom, as we did not initially build a High Speed line from London to the Channel Tunnel. Originally the idea was to build a route to London Victoria, but this was turned down because we Brits really can be a lazy bunch sometimes, even when it means turning down what the rest of the universe would consider common sense. So instead, the Eurostar sets ran on the suburban networks of South East England, dodging in and out and forever being delayed by the slower Network SouthEast commuter trains as they fought their way out of London Waterloo. As mentioned, in 2007 a High Speed Route was finally opened between the tunnel and London St Pancras, which saw an end to these trains running on the 3rd Rail network and could finally have these units run at an almost uninterrupted 186mph from London to Paris and Brussels (minus the 100mph speed limit through the tunnel itself). Not long after the start of High Speed Services, the 3rd Rail running equipment was removed from these trains.

In total, 31 Trainsets were built by Alstom, plus another 7 sets built with 14-cars for the North of London Regional Eurostar services, which eventually worked for GNER on the East Coast Mainline but are now working internal services in France. The sets are maintained in three locations, their depot codes designated by their running numbers. 373/0’s are based at Temple Mills in East London, 373/1’s are based at Le Landy depot in Paris and 373/2’s are based at Forest depot in Brussels. 373/3’s are the number designation for the Regional Eurostar sets, whilst one set, number 373999 is kept as a spare at Temple Mills.

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