|Regions served:||North West of England, South Mercia, East Mercia, Greater London, Europe|
|Cities served:||Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester, Nottingham, London, Brussels, Paris|
|Fleet size:||EMU: TBC|
|Transportation group:||Sparrowgroup Holdings|
|Web site:||None... yet|
Eurospeed Rail Services Ltd. operate high-speed, high-quality expresses between North West England, the Midlands, London and Europe.
EuroSpeed's logo is avaliable in 3 languages... English, French and Dutch. EuroSpeed services serve areas where all 3 languages are spoken, so it is neccessary to provide a translation suitable for each 3.
- File:Eurospeed Logo.png (English)
- File:Eurovitesse Logo.png (French)
- File:Eurosnelheid Logo.png (Dutch)
The English operations stem back to the Manchester, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, or later renamed as the Grand Central Railway with original mainline from Manchester through to Sheffield. The line progressed to London Marylebone via Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby and Aylesbury. Ironically, the original plan was to connect Manchester and the Midlands with London and Europe.
Electrified at 1500V D.C. in 1939, the route became the home of the unique Class 76/77 electrics and later Mk1 coaching stock, but by the 1960s was isolated from the newly-electrified WCML due to the difference in voltage. The change to 25kV A.C. had to be made soon and with the threat of closure, the Great Central management elected to make the conversion. This occurred between 1971-73, during which time the route was operated by Class 40 diesel locomotives which had been displaced from the WCML by the Class 81-86 electrics. Other major work was undertaken at this time as well, consisting of rationalisation, resignalling and speed-enhancing, so that by the late 1970s, the GCML was an efficient, 100mph, electrified railway. Services were still utilising the Mk1 stock, but now a dedicated fleet of 100mph Class 87 locomotives had been delivered, these locomotives having taken over from the 40s with an accelerated timetable in 1975.
There were still a number of major pinchpoints, including Nottingham Victoria and the route into London over Metropolitan Line metals, as well as a cramped and jointly-owned Marylebone terminus (services from Banbury via the Chiltern route operated into Marylebone as well), and this would have been addressed by further funding from the government. However the economic state of the 1970s, combined with spending on the APT-P project meant that the complete upgrade of the GCML was never realised.
The new-look GCML matched the change in traffic, as the majority of local services had been axed by the late-1960s and what remained in the Midlands/South Yorkshire had been taken over by Northern, who had running rights over GCML metals. Primary business was between Manchester, Sheffield and London, although this directly competed with WCML and Midland services. However, the company had always owned the fastest route between Manchester and Sheffield and this maintained the importance of the Woodhead route expresses. A faster alignment between Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester was also useful, as was the interchange with the WCML at Rugby, albeit with a short walk.
By the mid-1980s, attention again turned to the GCML. The APT project was complete and although plans were progressing for the ECML electrification, the government was acutely aware of the growing requirements for Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield to have a good link to London. The slow and curvy Midland route was snubbed in favour of the GCML, and plans were tentatively put forward for a further upgrade to permit a switch to TGV-style operation, using French-style TVM300 signalling and a maximum speed of 160mph, although the majority of the route would be 140-150mph. This highly political move provided the Tory government of the day with a powerful tool to winning the future votes of working-class areas of the Midlands and South Yorkshire. However, exciting and far-seeing as it was, the project was never completed. Some basic realignment and renewals work was completed, as was installation of the signalling system between Sheffield Victoria and Aylesbury, and on-board the Class 87 locomotives which were used as a test-bed. Traditional lineside signalling remained in the Sheffield and Nottingham areas for the benefit of Northern local services. No other work was ever completed, as the changing government and economic situation meant focus returned to the ECML and Midland routes.
The future of the GCML, operated as it was by 1970s locomotives hauling 1950s coaching stock and running under a non-standard foreign cab-signalling system, over a route duplicated by WCML and MML services, was beginning to look in-doubt. However, in 1988 approval was given for CrossRail and the construction of the Channel Tunnel, and the Great Central company went to the government along with councillors from Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester, and proposed a through link to the continent over a dedicated alignment, already carrying a high-speed-capable signalling system. The government agreed with the proposal, meaning that finally, the realisation of the ancestors dream of reaching the continent would be achieved.
Class 87-haulage continued into the Marylebone terminus until 1992, at which point the through Manchester-London domestic services ended. An hourly service continued to be electrically hauled over various parts of the route until completion of the project in 1994, at which point the coaching stock was scrapped and the locomotives went over to freight use on the WCML.
The work undertaken for Class 373-operation involved construction of a new three-platform station on the eastern side of Manchester Piccadilly, extension of platforms at Guide Bridge (for the M60), Sheffield Victoria, Leicester Central and Rugby Central. General major realignment work and remodelling was again undertaken, notably at Nottingham with a completely rebuilt Victoria station, where the linespeed was raised from 20-75mph! The new station, although retaining the clock-tower, bears little resemblance to the previous structure, being more akin to Lille Europe (albeit with a significantly lower through-linespeed due to the tunnels.) Linespeed on the country sections, running with the existing TVM300 signalling, is 140mph-max - the 160mph aim of the 1980s proved over-expensive in the early-90s. The lines into Marylebone terminus were sold to Great Thames outright, coinciding with their increase in services following introduction of Turbo operation. In return, the Great Central, now dubbed "Eurolines", bought the line between Northolt Jn and Old Oak Common Jn, with the sections between Aylesbury and Northolt via Princes Risborough and High Wycombe being run over Great Thames metals via a long-term agreement. In order to access the CTRL to the Channel Tunnel, the Crossrail tunnels were used, via pair of dedicated tracks.
Euroline Group went into a cash crisis after a large plummet in share price following the transfer of Great Thames to Regional Railways Group. DTG stepped in and took the remaining rail assets over.
In mid-2008 the company was taken over by Sparrowgroup, who aspire to initiate a domestic TGV-style service to the capital from Manchester and Yorkshire, in addition to the international expresses. This would involve a replacement of the now-obsolete TVM300 with up-to-date TVM430 signalling (over the entire route, not just Sheffield-Aylesbury) and increases in linespeed, notably between Manchester and Sheffield, which is currently limited to 100-125mph. An alternative route into London is also being looked at, as the Aylesbury-Old Oak Common route is a major hamper to short journey times and linespeed.
27 Class 373 EMU's
After that, services run onto either:
Plan The Future Edit