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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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Devolution deals will help improve rail services

Elements of two devolution deals worth £2 billion over the next 30 years will contribute towards improving local rail networks in the West Midlands and Liverpool city regions.

The Treasury announced the agreements on November 17. From 2017 an elected Mayor in both regions will take over powers from central government, including local transport budgets and franchised bus services, and have increased responsibility for employment support and providing skills.

The deal with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will entail an extra £30 million being given by the Government in each of the next 30 years. For the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) it is £36.5m a year over 30 years.

The Midland Metro tram network is the main beneficiary of the West Midlands funding, enabling delivery over the next ten years of the HS2 Connectivity Package - this includes tram links from the HS2 station at Curzon Street to Birmingham Airport via Bordesley Green and Chelmsley Wood, and between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill.

There is also the potential to improve local rail services on the West Coast Main Line as capacity is freed by HS2, says the WMCA, along with strengthened connectivity between the East Midlands and the West Midlands as part of the Midlands Connect partnership (RAIL 785).

  • For more on this, see RAIL 789, published on December 9.

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