Regular commercial service on the Eurostar train, using a recently-completed section of high-speed tracks in England, which began Sunday, reduces travel time between London and Paris to 2 hours and 35 minutes--20 minutes faster than previously.
Travel times between London and Brussels, reduced to 2 hours and 20 minutes, have benefited as well.
The 46 miles of new tracks, called Channel Tunnel Rail Link 1 or CTRL 1, allow Eurostar to achieve the same top operating speed of 186 mph as it does on high-speed tracks in Belgium.
Until now, Eurostar has only been able to travel at that speed on the continent, since it shared the same tracks as regular non high-speed trains in England.
CTRL 2, the second and final 24-mile section of high-speed track on Eurostar's route in England, will reduce travel times by another 15 minutes when completed in 2007 and will include a tunnel to bring Eurostar to the St. Pancras rail station in London.