Sunday, 8 October 2017

Class 373 Eurostar e300

A dream for many years the Channel Tunnel was finally opened in 1994, the Class 373 Eurostar e300 was built for high-speed intercity services between London and the continent. The Class 373 is part of the French TGV family though designed to fit in the smaller British loading gauge. The Class 373 was designed to use 25kV AC overhead line power, 3kV DC overhead (for use in Belgium) and 750v DC third-rail for use in the South of England. Some French owned sets could also use 1.5kV DC overhead. However the DC third rail provision was removed when the 25kV AC overhead-line electrified HS1 railway line was opened in Kent [1].

Number built: 733 (31 20-car and 7 16-car sets + 1 spare power car)
Built: 1992-96
Builder: GEC Alsthom 
Engine: Alsthom traction system (25kV AC OHLE, 3kV DC OHLE & 750v DC third rail)
Power: 16, 400 hp (12, 200 kW) 25kV AC
7, 600 hp (5, 700 kW) 3kV DC
4, 600 hp (3, 400 kW) 750v DC third-rail
Formation: (20 car) Driving Motor (DM)+Motor Standard (MS)+
Trailer Standard (TS)+TS+TS+TS+
Trailer Brake Kitchen (TBK)+Trailer First (TF)+
TF+Trailer Brake First (TBF) +TBF+TF+TF+TBK

The Class 373s were ordered for British Rail and the French and Belgian state railways SNCF and SNCB for services from London to Paris and Brussels. Some of the British sets were shorter (at 16 cars - known as 373/2 - the rest of the fleet is 373/1). These "North of London" sets intended for services from the continent to British cities in the North along the WCML and ECML however these services never came to fruition. After rail privatisation the British Rail owned sets were owned by Eurostar.

For a number of years in the early 2000s some Class 373s were leased to GNER for services from London Kings Cross to York and Leeds however there were some problems and restrictions in using the trains due to their length and power needs.

Since the arrival of the new Class 374 e320 some Class 373s have been scrapped, others have been refurbished. Some French owned sets are now used on domestic services with SNCF.
Preserved 3308 at NRM York

Side view of 3308

A Eurostar approaches St Pancras International, over a somewhat older mode of transport!

[1] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 281