'A party atmosphere in every carriage': Ex-Newham councillor remembers first Eurostar journey 25 years on
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 November 2019
A quarter of a century ago, the first Eurostar service ran from London Waterloo to Paris - with a former Newham councillor as one of its passengers.
Paul Sathianesan, who lives in East Ham, described riding on the inaugural cross-Channel passenger train on November 14, 1994 as "a dream".
"I didn't know how to get a ticket," he said. "I kept on ringing and going to the station to find out."
Eventually, Paul was able to get a ticket for the landmark journey - but decided to keep it a secret from family and friends so that it would be a surprise for them.
"The night before, I asked two of my friends for a lift to Waterloo," Paul said.
"They asked why and I said, 'I'm going on the first train'."
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Once on baord, Paul found himself sitting at a table with three other passengers - an 88-year-old journalist and a mother with an eight-month-old baby. The group began talking and have remained in contact ever since.
"I walked the whole length of the train and there was a party atmosphere in every carriage," Paul added.
"One of the Japanese journalists was keeping a £1 coin standing upright to see how smooth the journey was."
Paul, who spent 20 years on Newham Council before standing down ahead of the 2018 election, described the Eurostar as a "fantastic achievement for Great Britain".
He estimates he's made more than 100 trips in the past 25 years, including the first St Pancras to Paris service - a trip which took place on November 14, 2007.
"I used to fly to Paris," Paul said. "I had to be at Heathrow an hour before my flight and it's going to take me around four or five hours.
"The Eurostar takes me from the heart of London to the heart of Paris."
Paul explained that his collection of Eurostar memorabilia, which included his train tickets and certificate of travel on the first train, was stolen during a burglary in 2011.
But he still has the memories of a landmark journey in European transport history.