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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Eurostar's fast-track service
Eurostar Channel Tunnel train
Each train carrys a maximum of 766 passengers
The yellow, white and blue colours Eurostar trains have been racing through the English, French and Belgian countryside for more than five years.

Eurostar began passenger operations in November 1994 as a joint venture between the three countries in which it operates.

Last year Eurostar carried 7m passengers, up from 6.3m in 1998.

The year 2000 figure is expected to exceed the 1999 total as the company is running more trains than ever before.

Eurostar leaving Waterloo station
The trains leave the UK from London's Waterloo station
There are currently 27 of the 400-metre-long trains in service and each can carry a maximum of 766 passengers.

The trains have power cars at each end and 18 passenger coaches, with 208 people able to travel in first class and the rest in standard.

As well as a driver, each train has a train manager and a catering crew and Eurostar currently operate 23 services a day in each direction to Paris and ten to Brussels.

The trains run from London Waterloo through the Channel Tunnel and onto the French and Belgian capitals.

Some stop at Ashford in Kent and some at Lille in France. There is also a connection to Disneyland Paris.

Fast link

The French had their high-speed rail link in place before the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994 and the Eurostar trains were able to travel at 186mph (300kmh) through Northern France straight away.

The Belgian fast link was finished in 1997 but trains are limited to 100mph through England.

The journey time to Paris is three hours and to Brussels it is two hours 40 minutes.

These times are predicted to come down by 20 minutes when the first stage of the 5bn UK Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link is completed between Folkestone in Kent and Fawkham Junction near Dartford in Kent.

Passengers have included the Queen who, with France's then president Francois Mitterrand, journeyed on a Eurostar train from London to Calais when they officially opened the tunnel in May 1994.

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