LONDON, England -- A Eurostar train has set a record for the fastest rail journey between Paris and London with an inaugural service completing the journey in just over two hours.
A Eurostar train arrives at St. Pancras International train station for the first time in central London on Tuesday.
Tuesday's record bid took place ahead of the public opening on November 14 of the new stretch of track in southeast England and a new Eurostar terminal at London's St. Pancras station.
The train, which completed the 492-kilometer (306-mile) journey in two hours and three minutes, was the first to travel on a new £5.8 billion high-speed route which runs for 68 miles from the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone in Kent to central London.
Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said the train's arrival in London was a great achievement for his company and a massive step forward for rail travel as it tries to compete against low-cost airlines.
Brown said, as he stepped off the train at St. Pancras, that he felt "elated" that a new record had been set.
The Eurostar chief told the Press Association: "We were feeling pretty excited this morning although slightly apprehensive about the journey ahead, but we have proved the success of the high-speed line."
Brown said the company was confident that when scheduled services begin between the French and British capitals on November 14 the journey would take two hours and 15 minutes.
French driver Francis Queret drove the train through France while UK driver Neil Meare took over in England.
He spoke of his excitement at being involved in the record journey and said he believed the record time would never be beaten. "I feel very honored to have driven the train today," said the 52-year-old.
"It felt very good to be at the controls today and I believe this is a record which will probably never be broken." E-mail to a friend