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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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Getting the supply chain right is the key to success

Terence Watson, Alstom Country President and Transport Managing Director, and co-chairman of the Rail Supply Group.

“Britain’s coming major projects will make a difference, and will do much, much more than projects over the past two decades in redeveloping our industry.”

That was the view of Terence Watson, Alstom Country President and Transport Managing Director, and co-chairman of the Rail Supply Group. He told National Rail Conference delegates on November 5 that there are always two world views of the industry: “The first is cynical. It’s that we’re rubbish, we’re always late, it’s broken, there’s no possibility of us leading the world in anything. Frankly, don’t get out of bed and try.

“The second is ambitious - it recognises the UK’s historic leadership. It’s from the Victorians onwards, and the opportunity that we have coming, certainly in the next decade or two.”

Watson said he believes in the second view, and that the industry does too.

Speaking from the RSG viewpoint, Watson said of the upcoming projects: “Our aim is to take a positive collective action based on the views of the industry. And it takes into account two things: one, that there is significant growth around; and two, that these projects are really once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we cannot just see as projects." 

  • For much more on this, Watson's speech at the National Rail Conference, and NRC coverage in general, read RAIL 788, published on November 25.
  • RAIL 789, published on December 9, features an in-depth Alstom interview regarding HS2. 


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