Trans Manche Super Trains (TSMTs) - class 373

French owned Eurostar unit 373202 approaching Vauxhall on 19th October 2000 with the 2:23pm departure from Waterloo International to Brussels. Theextreme length of the train (by normal British standards) can be appreciated from this picture.

photograph by Colin Duff

In the run up to the opening of the Channel Tunnel contracts were placed in December 1989 for the construction of thirty one TMST (Trans Manche Super Train) units. GEC-Alsthom was the main contractor using a number of sub contractors in Belgium, Britain and France, in particular Brush of Britain supplying the traction motors and de Dietrich of France building the body shells of the trailer cars. The power cars were built at the GEC-Alsthom works at Belfort in France and a large part of the final construction was carried out at the former Metro Cammel plant (GEC-Alsthom having acquired the company) at Washford Heath.

TMST units are technically complex having to accommodate three different operating voltages and pickups (750v DC third rail UK, 25kV AC overhead Channel Tunnel and France, 3kV DC overhead Belgium), three different 25kV catenary heights (Eurotunnel - high for the Shuttle, French LGV - fixed at 5.1m, and variable height on normal French lines), three different methods of railway operation, and three different platform heights (France 550mm above track height, Belgium 760mm and Britain 36 inches). Changes between voltage and pickup are designed to be done on the move. Each driving power car has two pantographs - one for 25kV AC and one for 3kV DC - and both bogies have retractable pickup shoes for use on 750v DC lines. Different platform heights are dealt with by retractable steps for use when in Belgium and France.

All cars are of steel construction - the long nose of the 22.15 m long driving power cars being of glass reinforced plastic with a steel safety cage. The trailer cars, which are 18.70 m long, except for the MS and TBF which are 21.85 m long, are built to a monocoque (no separate chassis) design and adjacent non powered cars are articulated about a shared bogie. The overall unit is built to less than the Continental UIC loading gauge to be able to run in Britain without requiring major building work to widen lines and raise overhead structures

373009 373009 at Ashford International with a down service on 12th November 1999.

photograph by Mark Ekiert

373013 bringing up the rear of a Eurostar service passing through Tonbridge on 9th June 1999.

photograph by Michael Taylor

3732xx An unidentified French owned unit passes through Kensington Olympia on its way to North Pole depot for servicing on 11th March 1988.

photograph by David Overall

In service twenty car formations are run of two mirrored ten car units consisting of DM, MS, 4TS, RB, 2TF and TBF. Each running formation has 12 asynchronous traction motors, 8 axles on the power cars and 4 axles on the outer bogies of the leading coaches. Power output from a TMST is not the same on all voltages - the maximum power of 16,408hp (the power/weight ratio is 50% less than for a TGV Nord set) is only available when operating at 25kV. The maximum power when operating on 750v DC is roughly 28% of that total. The units have two types of braking. Non powered wheels have disc brakes. Powered wheels have pneumatically operated brake shoes for use under 25mph or in an emergency. At higher speeds the powered wheels use rheostatic braking. At the maximum speed of 186 mph (never reached in the UK!) the train can stop in 2.2 miles.

The thirty one units were divided between the partners in the Eurostar service consortium, the SNCF owning sixteen, BR EPS (European Passenger Services) eleven and SNCB four. The first test run of the PS (pre-series) 1 unit - consisting of power car 3001 and 3002 plus seven trailer cars - was on 28th January 1993 from Strasburg Ville. A run at 100mph was recorded the next day. On 20 June 1993 the first TMST ran through the Channel Tunnel. The Channel Tunnel was opened by the H.M. The Queen and President Mitterrand on 6th May 1994. The first London to Paris staff familiarisation purposes ran on 2th June 1994 and the services between London and Paris or Brussels - marketed as Eurostar - began on 14th November 1994.

The central driving position can just be made out in this picture as unit 373013 leads the 1:53pm departure from Waterloo International to Paris on 19th October 2000 at a stately pace through Vauxhall.

photograph by Colin Duff

373014 The rear of 373014 is picking up speed through Wandsworth Road on 18th July 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

Detail of the panotograph well containing the two pantographs.

photograph by Michael Taylor

373 Pantograph
373006 The stylish Eurostar branding on the cab side of 373006 which formed the rear of the 9:27am departure from Waterloo International to Marne-La-Vallee Chessy (Disneyland Paris) on 24th October 2000.

photograph by Katherine Duff

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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