Train operator Eurostar is to run its inaugural service on the high-speed line linking Paris to St Pancras International on September 4th with the aim of achieving a speed of 186mph and a journey time of two hours 15 minutes.

If the train manages to cover the 306-mile distance in this time it will shave more than 20 minutes off the journey duration between Paris and Waterloo.

The service will leave the French capital's Gare du Nord station mid-morning before arriving in the fully restored St Pancras International, Eurostar's new terminal in London.

Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, said: "Today marks Britain's entry into the European high-speed rail club.

"We can now run trains at high speed all the way from the Channel Tunnel to London, making journeys between cities quicker [and] more convenient."

The high-speed line runs from the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone to St Pancras International, passing through Kent's Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International on the way.

Eurostar will fully launch its services from the London station on November 14th.

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Tony Hill Helen Gillilan

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(Tony Hill and Helen Gillilan)

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