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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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East Anglia rail franchise competition begins

The procurement process for the next East Anglia rail franchise has begun, the Department for Transport announced on February 19.

Shorter journey times, particularly on London services, as well as easier connections at Liverpool Street and Stratford, have all been stipulated by the DfT, which also wants a more reliable service with fewer delays and cancellations, as well as better integration with local transport along the routes, and investment in and around stations.

Bidders will be asked to consider achieving the recommendations from the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, including reducing London-Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.

Companies interested in running the franchise will be shortlisted following a pre-qualification stage. Detailed proposals will then be invited later this year.

The current East Anglia franchise is operated by Abellio Greater Anglia which was awarded a two-year contract from February 5 2012. In 2014, a further two-year Direct Award was negotiated, extending the franchise until October 16 2016.

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 769, published on March 4.  

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