Pantograph testing in France

During the mid-1990's the North of London Eurostar sets were being trialled on the WCML and ECML. Part of the problem running with the Faiveley pantograph in the UK was that it was designed for running at high speed on the French equipment and not on the Mk3 lightweight OHLE in UK.

In an attempt to 'tune' the pantograph such that it did not exert such a large uplift in the UK aerodynamic trials were undertaken during the week commencing 8th December 1996 by SNCF using a Eurostar running between Nantes, Angers and Tours in the Loire Valley. Some limited success was achieved but the Eurostars were subsequently limited to 110 mile/h in the UK for the duration of their use by GNER.

This was the same line on which the early tests with the TGV were carried out.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - All photos are the author's.


A TGV set passes Vouvray, just outside Tours in the Loire valley, on a July evening in 1981 whilst on test - note the compound OHLE and Faiveley pantograph.

The author was on board for the aero tests at the invitation of Eurostar to observe the trials, which were basically inconclusive.

Eurostar here we come

It's free!

Mon Dieu!

Travel courtesy of Eurostar

 A 'duty pass'

TGV seat reservation

The adjustment needed to run successfully on BR's OHLE was detrimental to running on SNCF's LGV lines so the Eurostars were limited to 110 mile/h in UK. This dogged the ECML 'White Rose' Eurostar services until recently withdrawn. Some of the NoL sets ended up with SNCF- see photo below

The final solution was to abandon the NoL idea and to build a French railway with French OHLE (CTRL) from the Tunnel to St Pancras - problem solved!

Unfortunately there was little opportunity to take any photographs during the pan tests but here are a few Eurostars in service on ECML, CTRL, SNCF and SNCB.

Near Cobham

A Eurostar on a Down service passes Cobham on the original part of High Speed 1 (then known as the CTRL) on 18th February 2004 Another Up service is pictured crossing the Medway Bridge on 8th March 2004

Tempsford LC

Set 3303 passes Tempsford Level Crossing north of Sandy on the ECML with a Leeds service in the summer of 2004 Tempsford again on 14th October 2004 with a 'White Rose' service heading north


A down service passes Lenham Loops on CTRL on 21st March 2005 Brussels Brussels Midi on 12th December 2005

Lille Flandres

Former NoL set 3328 in Lille Flandres on 29th January 2006 has been re-painted into SNCF livery Swanley Up service at Swanley (BTR1) on 15th August 2007

3206 with 09.54 to Brussels on 19th November 2008 Set 3232 at St Pancras on 14th August 2009


Arriving at Ashford International on 7th May 2010 3221 arriving at Lille Europe on 4th June 2013


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