Record profits seduce Eurostar to order up to 50 new trains

High-speed train operator Eurostar is to thoroughly renew and expand its fleet by ordering up to 50 new trains. It expects to put the first new trains into service in 2030. The HST operator also reached a turnover of 2 billion euros for the first time in 2023, a quarter more than in 2022. It does, however, still carry a total debt of 650 million euros.

Currently, the Eurostar fleet has 51 trains and after the arrival of the new trains, that will rise to 67. Most of the order will go toward replacing the older trains in the fleet; mainly the former Thalys trains.

Eurostar is only at the beginning of the process of placing an order. During 2025, it should be clear who may build the trains. The current Eurostar fleet includes trains made by French company Alstom and by Germany’s Siemens. Eurostar is not saying anything about the price tag.

The last time Eurostar commissioned new trains was in late 2015. That was when the first Siemens-built Velcro e320n became operational. Eurostar has 17 such trains, running between London and mainland Europe. Those trains will remain in the fleet, the other Eurostars will be replaced by the new trains.

Revenue up with 25%

The HST operator also reached 2 billion euros in revenue for the first time in 2023, a quarter more than in 2022. EBITDA, earnings before interest costs, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, went up 8% to 423 million euros.

Eurostar refinanced its existing debt, of 963.7 million euros at the time, as recently as April. The total debt is now 650 million euros in the form of a five-year ‘green loan’.

Belgian rail operator NMBS/SNCB has an 18.5% stake in Eurostar. The largest shareholder is French rail operator SNCF (55.75%), with the rest mainly held by a Canadian pension fund and a US infrastructure investor.

Expansion on the horizon

Eurostar’s ambition is to grow to 30 million passengers a year by 2030, up from 18.6 million in 2023. For example, the company would like to expand the network to new countries. “There is a huge demand for our services, and we have big European ambitions,” says Eurostar chief Gwendoline Cazenave who told the Financial Times that “Eurostar was considering opening new routes from London to Europe.” According to a spokesperson, nothing is concrete yet.

According to Getlink, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, five companies are interested in launching train services between Europe and the UK.

Eurostar currently operates in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the UK. By 2030, it also aims to run all trains on renewable energy. In that context, it recently joined the RE100 alliance, an initiative for companies committed to obtaining 100% of their energy from renewable sources. Currently, Eurostar trains in the Netherlands have been running 100% on wind power since 2017. This figure has reached 40% in the UK since 2023.

Meanwhile, the Channel Terminal at Brussels South Station is also undergoing major renovation. The work will last until the summer of 2025. St. Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord will also be redesigned to make more space over the next five years.

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