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As lockdown restrictions ease and we start to consider travelling again, the future of cross-Channel operator Eurostar remains uncertain.
Eurostar is seeking financial support from the UK Government, citing higher access charges here as a reason.
The French Government has pledged to provide support for the operator, while £200 million has been provided by one of its shareholders, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure.
Registered in the UK and supporting 3,000 jobs either with the business or in the supply chain, the company is, however, 55% owned by SNCF (French state rail), 40% by CDPQ/Hermes and 5% by SNCB (Belgian state railways).
So: Should the UK Government provide financial assistance to Eurostar?

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Rail freight contributes £1.6 billion to economy says report

An estimated £1.6 billion is the value of benefits to Britain’s economy of rail freight, according to a new report by the Rail Delivery Group.

Research carried out in 2013 estimated that freight delivers productivity gains for British businesses and congestion and environmental benefits to a total of over £1.5 billion per year, a figure that has since risen.

The RDG report highlights how the five major rail freight operators (DB Schenker, Freightliner, GB Railfreight, Colas Rail and Direct Rail Services) transport goods worth over £30bn, from supermarket groceries to the fuel used to generate electricity. In addition, since 2006 there has been a 30% rise in the movement of containers by rail – fuelled by the consumer goods market.

While the number of freight trains has dropped by 30% since 2003, freight tonnage lifted has increased by 30% (meaning an increase in tonnage per train of over 80%), helping to reduce the number of lorries on the roads.

  • For more on this story, see RAIL 771, published on April 1.

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