The new Eurostar comes into service "definitely this year", and you can read about our trip down its new-smelling corridors here. Now, ever wondered what all those buttons and knobs and levers on the driver's console do? Good. Here's our (extremely) rough guide…
1. The white panel with the big red button is the radio. The handset is part of the cab signalling radio. Used to communicate with the signaller. In the signal box. Obvs.
2. Door controls.
3. 4x "Driver information screens". Obviously. The driver can select what info he wants to see and where, from a menu that includes speed, pantograph status (that's the equipment on the roof that connects to the power cables), door status (open/closed/locked), brake status (applied/not applied), train diagnostics, air pressures, brake pressures and so on.
4. Brake. This is quite important as the Eurostar (the Siemens-built e320) has a top speed of 200mph.
5. Traction. Aka "the levers that make it go". The opposite of the brake. We asked for clarification on how these worked and were actually told, "If we go into any more detail it gets too complicated." And you thought driving a train just involved holding a button down…
6. Controls for the train's external lights. "Put the hazards on, Dave, I need to pull over and check the map."
7. (Partly obscured by chair) The windscreen wipers. The windscreen also has a hefty retractable cover to prevent glare/ buzzard strikes. Well, probably not the latter but joking aside, we were once on a train that was hit by a buzzard, and it actually broke the windscreen. Didn't do the buzzard much good, either.
8. We can only assume this one launches the missiles. No, okay, it's an emergency brake. Similarly, the red button under the desk (near the chair) is not, in fact, a secret panic button in the event of pirates storming the cab, it's an emergency button to lower the pantographs on the roof, cutting off the power to the train.