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Eurostar Simulator

12th October 1999

by Peter Lindop

Wednesday 12th October saw 14 members meet at Waterloo station, for a short walk to the Eurostar offices at Holmes House. Here we wore met by Phil Eke, simulator manager. As the previous group of trainee drivers was still using the facility, we went for a cup of tea first. They must have had quite a few problems thrown at them, taking four hours to cover just three miles!

Eurostar opened the four-floor Holmes House in early 1992 for language and technical training. The driver simulator was ready later in the year. This comprises of two areas, a complete real cab (with full sound effects), and a classroom. High on an end wall are three large screens; the centre one shows the output from a TV camera showing the cab deck and how the driver is operating the controls. The left-hand screen shows the various cab desk displays speedo, brake gauges, power and line voltages, a bank of 18 fault and information lights. The right-hand screen shows the view out of the cab window. The reproduction is good rather than completely accurate while every tree looks the same, all the woods are in the right place. All stations, tunnels, bridges, etc. are there.

The instructor's desk has these, and other screens, including one showing a gradient profiled route diagram with the "train's" position marked on it. Controls on the desk allow just about anything a real Eurostar could expect to meet to he programmed into the simulator for the driver to encounter!

The genuine Eurostar drivers have 5 refresher visits to the simulator per year, which keeps the simulator full. To qualify, a driver needs over 5 years main line experience. He/she then has about a 15-month training period before being passed out to drive Eurostars.

Our train was the 05. 19 Waterloo - Paris "red-eye" service, which we picked up at Ashford (06.00). As Phil explained the various controls and displays, we could see a good sunrise out of the cab window! And then it was our turn to take the controls. You soon lost the fact that you wore in a building in London, as you became involved with the simulation and it all seemed real. The French have a simulator, which also has a motion effect, but apparently it makes you feel ill!

As we approached the tunnel, and ~had from third rail to overhead line pick-up, the dials automatically swooped from imperial to metric. Along the way severed incidents were encountered or tried;- over-speeding, not resetting the deadman's device, not slowing down fast enough for signals, trying to pass a red signal, in most cases the brakes automatically were applied. At one point we oven suddenly came across a thick fog patch. Everyone had a go at driving, and in the end, by staying longer than anticipated, we got right through to Paris. And so the final, enjoyable, visit of the year was over, on British soil but with a European feel!

Eurostar Cab Layout.

Eurostarcab.gif (37288 bytes)

1 Left-handside ashtray 23 Line voltage 45 Radio / intercom handset
2 Automatic brake emergency plunger 24 Motor current ammeter 46 Radio / intercom controls
3 Emergency automatic air brake handle 25 Preset speed digital indicator 47 Desk lamp dimmer (RHS)
4 Automatic air brake control handle 26 Locked switches in switchbox 48 Vigilance push button
5 DSD buzzer 27 TBL speed monitoring 49 Flashing white light bush button
6 Windscreen wiper selection control 28 TBL little motion button 50 Preset speed trigger
7 Windscreen wiper control on/off/speed 29 TBL large movement button 51 Power & electric brake controller (RHS)
8 Windscreen wiper & washer controls 30 TBL small movement button 52 DSD reset device
9 Brake test initiation button 31 Locking key for switchbox 53 Head-light/dip lights selector
10 Main reservoir pipe gauge 32 Unlocked switches in switchbox 54 Direction lever
11 Brake neutral function 33 Monitor screen 55 DSD pedals
12 Brake pipe & reservoir duplex pressure gauge 34 Keyboard 56 Timetable light switch
13 Power car bogies brake cylinder gauge 35 Radio / intercom loudspeaker 57 DSD reset device
14 Automatic brake overcharge button 36 Cab-signalling switchbox 58 Power & electric break controller (LHS)
15 Signalling indication lamp dimmer 37 Left-handside doors release 59 Anti-wheel slip button
16 Faults display 38 Doors lock button 60 Automatic sanding cancellation button
17 Speed control display 39 Right-handside doors release 61 Manual sanding button
18 Reserved 40 Current current selector (3rd rail/overhead) 62 Desk lamp dimmer (LHS)
19 Cab-signal display 41 Voltage selector 63 Cab air-conditioning temperature control
20 Speedometer 42 Four-position horn (2 tones high & low) 64 Unlocked switches in switchbox
21 Speed unit indicator (mph / km/h) 43 Tea-cup stand 65 Timetable clip
22 Reserved 44 Right-handside ashtray    

Some of the descriptions are rather 'odd', presumably due to less than perfect French to English translation!