HM Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, launched the United Kingdom's first section of high-speed railway and officially opened St Pancras International Station, the restored Victorian train station in the center of London, on Tuesday.
The $13.1 billion, 10-year project, completed on time and within budget, was built by London & Continental Railways.
The ceremony, attended by VIPs and dignitaries, marked the opening of the station building, the launch of High Speed 1 and signaled the final days of preparations to move Eurostar’s entire London operations to begin commercial services from St Pancras on November 14.
High Speed 1 will provide Eurostar with a dedicated, 68-mile (109km) high-speed line between central London and the Channel Tunnel.
The new line will enable Eurostar trains to travel at their full speed of 186mph (300km/h), cutting journey times between London and the Continent by at least 20 minutes.