In that light, it is interesting to note that last week saw St Pancras welcome its first TGV – No. 951 ‘La Poste’, a postal/freight unit.
The visit was both a test ad a PR exercise, carried out by freight consortium EuroCarex to demonstrate the viability of freight services through the tunnel and onto HS1 itself – the operation of which EuroCarex themselves hope to begin in 2017. Indeed the TGV did not travel up HS1 under its own power, instead being hauled by two of Eurotunnel’s Mak diesel locos in the early hours of Tuesday morning (which, thanks to some creative shunting, departed the scene before press and passengers were around to take pictures).
Alongside Deutsche Bahn’s plans to begin non-Eurostar passenger services in 2015 using Siemens Velaros, however, it shows that the Eurotunnel/HS1 market is finally beginning broaden.
It also adds some welcome variety to the rolling stock traffic, although Eurostar’s own controversal decision (in French rail circles at least) to choose Velaro-Ds for its new fleet means that the Velaro body will almost certainly become the standard image of the cross-channel train for the upcoming generation of travellers and spotters.
All photos come courtesy of Sparkyscrum, who has our thanks.