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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Multi-million facelift for Eurostar
A Eurostar train
The exterior of the Eurostar trains will remain unchanged
Eurostar has unveiled plans to refurbish 30 trains at a cost of 35m in the face of falling ticket sales.

A working model for the new train interiors was due to be unveiled in Paris on Tuesday by Eurostar bosses.

Designer Philippe Starck has been brought in to come up with a new concept to modernise the trains' interior.

The 35m refurbishment will include such innovations as power points for laptop computers and mobile phones.

Market leader

Eurostar spokeswoman Lesley Retallack told BBC Radio Kent it was important for the company to invest in its rolling stock despite a small drop in ticket sales.

She said: "Bearing in mind what has happened on a global basis, Eurostar's figures are actually pretty good, with the Iraq war, with the previous situations like foot and mouth, and 11 September.

"We are the market leader on both the London to Paris and London to Brussels route - we carry more than all the airlines combined, so that is a success story."

Ms Retallack said the refurbishment would ensure the service's future.

The second part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which will allow Eurostar trains to run at high speed between Southfleet, in Kent, and St Pancras, in London, is due to be completed in three years' time.

Ms Retallack said: "The trains came off the production line in 1991 to 1992 so, as you can appreciate, they have already had a fair amount of wear and tear.

"We have carried over 45 million passengers and it is now time that we looked at refurbishment because we need to encourage the market to grow and obviously to attract much more business."

She said the new designs, for both business and leisure passengers, would bring modernity fused with an element of tradition.

The refurbishment programme is scheduled to start in mid-2004 and be completed the following year.

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