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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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AGA could place order for new trains ‘next year’

Abellio will place an order for replacement intercity-standard rolling stock on the Great Eastern Main Line next year if it wins the longer-term East Anglia franchise, the operator’s Managing Director has told RAIL.

With the eventual outcome of a General Election expected by the end of May, AGA MD Jamie Burles was upbeat on May 1 about the prospects of faster journey times and brand new rolling stock in the next few years, despite potential uncertainties.

“The good news is that ‘Norwich in 90’ has been accepted by the Government,” Burles told RAIL. “We look forward to a lot more for this rail corridor.”

Asked by RAIL about the likely timescales and specification of future new rolling stock, Burles said it would be suitable for a “middle-distance, premium inter-city route”. He said it would need to be ordered by the start of the new East Anglia franchise in October 2016, so that the fleet of Mk 3s, which will not fully meet Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations, can be completely withdrawn.

“These trains will cease to operate at the end of 2019,” he said, adding that the Mk 3 refurbishment was kept deliberately limited. He also questioned the logic of spending a further £12 million putting new doors on the Mk 3 fleet.

Burles would not be drawn on the type of unit that Abellio (as a presumed bidder for the longer-term franchise) would aim for, explaining: “There are competing pressures of an existing design of unit.” The output specification would need to consider reliability, speed, acceleration and ambience, he said.

“Government has signalled that it will back rolling stock investment. But a whole lot of work is needed. We are at the stage of looking at a range of options.”

  • For more on this story see RAIL 774, published on May 13 2015

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  • Robert Reed - 11/05/2015 16:14

    Shame the 90s and MK3s cant be upgraded and the line updated so that the 90s can run at the speed (110mph) that they were built for. plus "Norwich in 90" would be possible with the current trains if stations such as Diss would see a 90 stop there every hour rather than every 30mins.

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  • Andrew Gwilt - 11/05/2015 21:06

    Well AGA should concider asking Hitachi to start building the new AT200 Commuter trains to replace the Class 317's & 360's and to build the AT300 IEP trains to replace the Class 90 MK3 Intercity fleet aswell Bombardier could build 90-100x Class 379 Electrostars to cascade the Class 321's & 360's elsewhere with AGA to lose the Liverpool Street-Broxbourne, Enfield Town, Chestnut, Chingford and Romford-Upminster lines to be taken over by London Overground and the Liverpool Street-Shenfield to be taken over by TFL Rail (soon to become Crossrail). Plus AGA would be losing the Greater Anglia Franchise to either First Group (First Anglia Trains/First Great Eastern), Stagecoach and/or Govia/Go Ahead (Greater Anglia).

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    • Robert Reed - 14/05/2015 17:30

      Doubt IEP trains would be the trains to replace the 90s, the GEML main line isn't ready and wont be for a while for trains that new (technology wise), as for the 321s and 360s, they wont be getting replaced anytime soon even though there are apprenlty talks of AGA getting more 321s

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