A SOLUTION to technical problems with signalling on the Eurostar platforms at Ashford International station is expected to be implemented by the end of the year, with full Eurostar services from the station restored next April.
Eurostar’s new Class 374 trains cannot call at the station until the issue is resolved. The platform roads have been equipped with KVB (Contrôle de Vitesse par Balises) signalling, with the installation consisting of isolation transformers designed to stop stray DC currents from the third rail network penetrating the HS1 AC overhead line supply and structures. An interruption on the continuity at traction return has been causing issues with the design of the ‘374s’ due to the new trains’ Technical Standard for Interoperability (TSI) compliant earthing philosophy. Eurostar has only been able to stop its legacy Class 373 sets, which unlike the newer sets can operate under UK main line signalling, at Ashford pending a resolution.
A launch event attended by then Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was held in April 2018 for the £10 million Ashford Spurs project, prior to discovery of the problems affecting the ‘374s’. A solution to the problem is programmed for delivery by the end of December, with the expectation that Paris and Brussels services will be operated by Class 374s from January and the full Ashford to Paris service restored from April 2020.