British Rail Class 373
The British Rail Class 373 or TGV TMST train is a French designed and built electric multiple unit that is used for Eurostar high speed rail services from the United Kingdom to France and Belgium through the Channel Tunnel. Part of the TGV family, it has a smaller cross-section to fit the smaller loading gauge in Britain, was originally capable of operating on the UK third rail network, and it has extensive fireproofing in case of fire in the tunnel. It is both the second longest—387 metres (1,270 ft)—and second fastest train in regular UK passenger service, operating at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph). It is beaten in both aspects by the Class 374 (Eurostar e320) which is 400 metres (1,300 ft) long and has a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour (199 mph), although it can only travel at 300 kilometres per hour on HS1 in the UK, most LGVs in France and HSL 1 in Belgium.
|British Rail Class 373 |
Eurostar 3206 and 3205 at Ashford International station (UK) in 2014.
The original interior of the Class 373s
|In service||14 November 1994 – present|
|Number built||31 sets (Three Capitals)|
7 sets (North of London)
|Number scrapped||16 sets|
|Formation||20 cars (Three Capitals):|
DM+MS+TS+TS+TS+TS+TBK+TF+TF+TBF + TBF+TF+TF+TBK+TS+TS+TS+TS+MS+DM
16 cars (North of London):
DM+MS+TS+TS+TS+TBK+TF+TBF + TBF+TF+TBK+TS+TS+TS+MS+DM
|Capacity||750 seats (Three Capitals - Classic)|
758 seats (Three Capitals - Refurbished)
558 seats (North of London)
North Pole International (former depot)
|Car body construction||Steel|
|Train length||387 m (1,269 ft 8 in)|
|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 (no longer in use)
|Current collection method||Pantograph|
Contact shoe (removed)
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Known as the TransManche Super Train (TMST) or Cross-channel Super Train before entering 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 the French company GEC-Alsthom at its sites in La Rochelle (France), Belfort (France) and Washwood Heath (Britain) and by Brugeoise et Nivelles (BN, now part of Bombardier Transportation) in Bruges (Belgium).
Since the introduction of the new Class 374 e320 units from Siemens in 2014, refurbished versions of the Class 373 or TGV-TMST sets have been officially referred to as e300 by Eurostar to distinguish them from the new Velaro fleet.
Two types of Class 373 were constructed:
- 31 Three Capitals sets consisting of two power cars and 18 passenger coaches, They are 387 metres (1,270 ft) long and have 750 seats: 206 in first class, 544 in standard class. The length of a complete set is dictated by the Channel Tunnel safety regulations; as the distance between consecutive cross passages is 375 metres. This ensures that, if a Eurostar train has to stop inside the Tunnel in case of emergencies, it would always stop adjacent to a cross passage.
- Seven North of London sets (known as "Regional" Eurostars) with 14 coaches and two power cars, They are 312.36 metres (1,024.8 ft) in length and have 558 seats: (114 in first class, 444 in standard class).
The North of London sets were intended to provide Regional Eurostar services from continental Europe to and from north of London, using the East Coast Main Line. These services never worked successfully because of long proposed journey times and the proliferation of budget airlines offering cheaper fares; there were also issues with the relatively crude design of British Rail overhead lines and problems with finding suitable routes across London.
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 the privatisation of British Rail, the BR sets were bought by London and Continental Railways, which named its subsidiary Eurostar (UK) Limited, now managed by SNCF (55%), LCR (40%) and SNCB (5%).
The first set, 373001/373002, 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.
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 (73205), a converted Class 33 locomotive acting as a Driving Brake Van (33115, reclassified as NZ under TOPS), and six carriages from Class 438 (4TC) multiple units 8007, 8023 and 8028.
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 was overhauled and renumbered 3204 in 2016.
The 22 sets still operating for Eurostar were refurbished in 2004/05 with a new interior, designed by Philippe Starck. The grey-yellow look in standard class and the grey-red look in first class were replaced with a more grey-brown scheme 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 would not include the Class 373 sets being used by SNCF in France. As a part of the update process, the Italian company Pininfarina was contracted to redesign the interiors; the first refurbished Eurostar was not originally due in service until 2012. The refurbishment would also include an engine maintenance and a new livery. Eurostar later planned for the process to be complete by 2014, allowing the fleet to remain in service beyond 2020, but following additional delays the first refurbished train was not completed until July 2015.
When Eurostar services ran from London Waterloo International, maintenance was carried out at North Pole Depot in West London, next to the Great Western main line. Since November 2007, Eurostar maintains its Class 373 fleets at Temple Mills Depot in East London; in France the trains are maintained at Le Landy depot in Paris, and Brussels Forest/Vorst depot.
Eurostar originally ran services to and from Waterloo International along existing mainline tracks, until moving to St Pancras International in November 2007. Today Eurostar uses its fleet of Class 373s on routes from London St Pancras International to Paris (Gare Du Nord), Brussels Midi and Marseille St Charles with a "Ski" service in the winter to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
In October 2010, Eurostar ordered 10 Class 374 "Eurostar e320" trains from Siemens to run on its existing routes from London to Paris and Brussels as well as a new route to Amsterdam alongside its Class 373 fleet. In 2016, Eurostar announced that it would keep 11 Class 373 sets in service once the full fleet of 374s (E320s) were in service with the rest of the Class 373 sets to be either stored or scrapped. The Class 373 sets that Eurostar would retain would be fully refurbished and repainted to match the livery of the new Class 374 E320 trains.
In November 2018, a Class 373 set consisting of 373213 and 373224 was introduced into service by IZY, the low-cost service operated between Paris and Brussels by Thalys, replacing a TGV Réseau train.
In 2000, 373303 + 373304, 373309 +373310, 373305 +373306, 373301 +373302, were leased to GNER to operate "The White Rose" services from London King's Cross to York and Leeds. 373303 +373304, 373305 + 373306 and 373301 + 373302 were all applied with GNER livery, whereas 373309 +373310 carried Eurostar livery with no logos. The lease expired in December 2005 and they were handed back to Eurostar; they were later used to operate high speed TGV services with SNCF.
When working GNER services, the doors of the first and last coach were locked out of use at some stations due to the units being too long to stop in the platforms.
Due to restrictions in the power supply on the Hertford Loop Line, only one set was permitted to operate on that route at any one time. They were restricted to run between King's Cross, York and Leeds because of gauging on the bridges approaching Newcastle. They were not permitted to operate to Bradford Forster Square because the electrical infrastructure beyond Leeds was insufficient. Manually locked selective door opening was used at shorter platforms. At the following locations on the East Coast Main Line they were restricted to 110 mph (177 km/h), shown by blue "TGV" signs next to the tracks, or required to only use a single pantograph:
(i) The Down Fast line between 59 m 10ch and 59 m 30ch (Huntingdon North Jn)
(ii) between Grantham (105 m 77ch) and Shaftholme Jn (160 m 00ch Down/160m 20ch Up)
(iii) between Colton Jn (182 m 75ch) and York.
SNCF leased 3 of Eurostar's "Three Capitals" sets for use on French domestic TGV services (mainly between Paris and Lille). The sets remained in the original Eurostar livery with SNCF branding with some sets having grey/silver ends. In 2007, SNCF added more 373 sets to its fleet by leasing the redundant "North of London" sets from Eurostar. SNCF's lease of the sets was scheduled to last until 2011 with the option to keep the sets running for another two years.
In October 2014, the three "Three Capitals" sets were withdrawn from traffic and stored, having been replaced by TGV Duplex sets. Some have since been scrapped having provided spare parts to other Class 373 sets with remaining sets still stored in Ambérieu, France.
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; and Mark 2 being SNCF TGV Atlantique). The second digit denotes the country of ownership:
- 3730xx: UK
- 3731xx: Belgium
- 3732xx: France
- 3733xx: "Regional" and "North of London" Eurostar sets
- 3739xx: Spare "Halfset"
Each half-set is numbered separately.
|Class||No. built||Unit number range||Cars per half-set[e 1]||Description||Operators||Unit numbers||Services operated|
|Class 373/1||22||373001–373022||10||BR sets||Eurostar||373001/373002, 373007–373018 373021/373022||London to Paris (Gare du Nord)|
London to Brussels
London to Marne-la-Vallée (for Disneyland Paris)
London to Marseille Saint-Charles[e 2]
London to Bourg St Maurice[e 2]
|32||373201–373232||10||SNCF sets||373201/373202, 373205–373224, 373229–373232|
|SNCF||373203/373204, 373225/373226, 373227/373228||Paris to Lille Flandres|
Brussels Midi to Nice
Paris to Boulogne Ville
|Class 373/2||14||373301–373314||8||BR's NoL sets||Eurostar||373301–373307, 373309–373314||On hire to SNCF|
|–||373308||On static display at the National Railway Museum, York|
|Spare powercars||1||373999||1||Eurostar||373999||Refurbished and in normal service|
- including power car.
- Avignon and Alps ski-train services are worked by SNCF quad-voltage sets.
Each set is formed of 2 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||-|
|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/Regional Eurostar sets are formed of 2 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||-|
|Power car number||Operator||Status||Notes|
|373001/373002||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 18 March 2018 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373003/373004||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 15 December 2016 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373005/373006||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 27 October 2016 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373009/373010||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 19 January 2018 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373011/373012||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 17 February 2018 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373013/373014||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 17 March 2017 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373017/373018||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped March 2018 at the SNCF yard in Valenciennes.|
|373019/373020||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 2 December 2016 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373101 [note 1]||Eurostar||Preserved||Withdrawn 8 August 2017. Preserved at National College for High Speed Rail, Doncaster.|
|373102 [note 1]||Eurostar||Preserved||Withdrawn 17 August 2017. Preserved at National College for High Speed Rail, Birmingham.|
|373103/373104||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 24 November 2017 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373106 [note 1]||Eurostar||Preserved||Preserved at Train World, Schaarbeek.|
|373107/373108||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 1 February 2017 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373201/373202||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 25 May 2018 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373203/373204||SNCF||Scrapped||Scrapped 23 September 2014 at the SNCF yard in Vaires-sur-Marne.|
|373213/373224||IZY||In service||On hire to Thalys.|
|373225/373226||SNCF||Scrapped||Scrapped at the SNCF yard, Culoz.|
|373227/373228||SNCF||Scrapped||Scrapped 17 May 2017 at the SNCF Technicentre, Romilly-sur-Seine.|
|373231/373232||Eurostar||Scrapped||Scrapped 22 September 2017 at European Metal Recycling, Kingsbury.|
|373308 [note 1]||Eurostar||Preserved||Withdrawn 7 August 2015. Preserved at National Railway Museum, York.|
|373999||Eurostar||In service||Refurbished. Spare power car.|
- Power car only
All Class 373 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 switching to overhead power. After the opening of High Speed 1 in 2007, 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.
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 HS1; 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 manually lower and then raise the pantograph during the transition between catenary systems.
The Class 373s are fitted with a wide range of signalling systems, these include:
- AWS (Automatic Warning System), the British signalling system, only used when services call at Ashford International
- TPWS (Train Protection & Warning System), the safety system that works with the AWS, only used when services call at Ashford International
- TVM (Transmission Voie-Machine), used on LGV ("lignes à grande vitesse"), Eurotunnel, HS1 and HSL 1
- KVB (Contrôle de vitesse par balises), used between Paris Gare du Nord and LGV Nord, on French Classic Lines and on the HS1 connected throat around London St Pancras. It is electro-mechanical with fixed radio beacons.
- TBL, (the Belgian signalling system,) electro-mechanical, used between Brussels-South/Midi and HSL 1, Belgium.
When travelling at high speeds, it is not possible for the driver to accurately see colour-light signals at the side of the track. 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 on the in-cab display for the next block if it is at 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 manually performed by the driver.
Bogies and couplingsEdit
The Class 373 was designed to comply with the Channel Tunnel safety regulations, and consists of two independent half-sets, each with its own power car. Most of the trailer cars are supported on Jacobs bogies shared between adjacent coaches, supporting both of them, with the cars next to the power cars and the two middle coaches (carriages 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 extremely difficult to separate the 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 point of separation, so a bogie frame is required to support it.
The class 373s use three braking systems:
- The 12 traction motors can provide dynamic braking
- All non-powered axles have four disc brakes.
- All powered axles have cast iron brake shoes pressed onto the wheel rim.
A train travelling at 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) can slow down to a stop in 65 seconds, during which time it travels about 2.7 km (1.7 miles)
Accidents and incidentsEdit
On 5 June 2000, 373101/102 on a Paris to London service derailed on LGV Nord near Arras, France at 180mph (290 km/h). 14 people were treated for light injuries or shock, with no serious injures or fatalities. The articulated design 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 by technical issues. On 29 May 2002 a set was accidentally 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 (one of which was 373217 + 373218) broke down inside the Channel Tunnel because snow in the engine compartment was melted by warmer temperatures in the tunnel, the resulting water causing 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 majority of the recommendations were implemented by 23 October 2012.
On 30 July 2003, on the opening press run of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Section 1, 373313/314 established a new British rail speed record of 334.7 kilometres per hour (208.0 mph), breaking the previous record of 261.0 kilometres per hour (162.2 mph) set by an Advanced Passenger Train on 20 December 1979.
On 16 May 2006 373209/210 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 publicity event for 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 where Eurostar goes or connects". The barge went under Tower Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament and moored beside the museum-warship HMS Belfast.
Hornby makes a version of the Eurostar in OO gauge which can be extended from 4 to 6 cars while Kato have produced it in N gauge which can to extended from 8 to the full 20 cars. Both Manufacturers have made versions in the original and new e300 liveries.
- 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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it was found that going down a tunnel at a fast rate for several minutes induced a hypnotic affect on the driver
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if a normal size window and side windows were used, it causes Hypnotic effect on the driver when travelling through the Tunnel.
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the small size of the drivers window is deliberate, to avoid hypnotic effects while in tunnel.
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6511 met Eurostar 3309 in Rotterdam CS
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- Spilt, Nico. "Rotterdam CS (deel 2)". Langs de rails (in Dutch).
- Perkins, Justin D. "East meets West in Berlin" (photograph).
The 373 was in Berlin for Eurailspeed '98
- Tito Mario. "Adivina adivinanza…". Flickr. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
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power car 3313 will be there to take its place among other historic record-breaking locomotives.
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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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