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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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Class 700s begin full Thameslink operations

September 18 was the first weekday on which all Thameslink trains were operated by Class 700s.

This was welcomed by Gatwick Airport, where Chief Commercial Officer Guy Stephenson said: “These new carriages are ideally suited for air travellers, and the longer trains will make a real difference to the increasing number of passengers using the airport and travelling by rail.

“The new Thameslink trains also form part of the exciting transformation of rail services at Gatwick. By 2018, rail capacity through Gatwick will have doubled in just ten years, and our passengers will start to see the benefit of trains leaving the airport for London with Tube-like frequency every three minutes.”

Twelve-car electric multiple units (Class 700/1s) will replace mostly four-car trains on weekdays and eight-car trains on Saturdays on the Bedford-Brighton route, adding an extra 9,000 seats per day.

More 12-car sets will be introduced when additional stabling facilities are built in Bedford. Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Thameslink route, says that already there are 15% more carriages in service in the peaks on the route.

GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden said: “Right now, it means trains up to three times longer on the off-peak services between Brighton, Gatwick Airport and London Bridge, and from May next year hundreds of thousands of new passengers from east Kent, Sussex, Cambridge and Peterborough will be plugged into the cross-London route when the Thameslink network expands.”

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “I am delighted we have reached this significant milestone for the multi-billion-pound Thameslink programme. It shows how our investment in the railways is delivering better journeys for passengers across the network, as well as supporting jobs and growth.”

Vernon Barker, Managing Director of Siemens UK Rail Systems, said: “We are really pleased to mark this major milestone in the introduction of the Class 700, which is one of the largest and most technologically advanced fleets of trains ever introduced in the UK.”

In total, 60 eight-car Class 700/0s and 55 12-car Class 700/1s will be in traffic. Currently 55 are in use each day (39 eight-car and 16 12-car sets). All the trains are built by Siemens in Krefeld, Germany.




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  • mark mansfield - 19/09/2017 19:50

    Seats too upright, no leg room, no padding, Aircon set too hot, break down a lot

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  • Graham - 19/09/2017 23:00

    Incredible. I've waited 15 years as a commuter for these new trains and in 2017 they (finally) managed to deliver new carriages with no power sockets (except first class) and no WiFi. What an absolute embarrassment you are. But hey, at least there's now fewer seats and more room to stand. Genius.

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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 20/09/2017 01:32

    I've heard that Great Northern are to use some of the Class 700's to replace 21 Class 365's that the Class 365's could end up going to London Midland. Whilst the rest will remain with Great Northern. As Class 387's has replaced the Class 317's and Class 321's to Greater Anglia.

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  • Kevin Goss - 20/09/2017 10:18

    I'm sorry, but the much vaunted class 700s have only one virtue: extra capacity. They are a disaster in nearly every other respect for many customers. You have provided a metro/ suburban service on what is actually a regional service. Fine for hopping on for a few stops for 25 minutes but awful for those of us travelling 80 miles or so for nearly 2 hours! This new service is actually a downgrade. Unlike their predecessors on which one could actually work, standard class on the new trains has no tables, no phone sockets;so forget working on a laptop...there is nowhere even to stand a cup of coffee. The seats are as hard as ironing boards and are back crippling; and the loss of partitions either side of the doorways gives no protection from cold winds ripping through the carriages on winter days. What were you or your predecessors thinking of? This is a train clearly designed for the past, not for the future. Please think again and sort these new trains. Thank you.

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  • Jeff711 - 20/09/2017 15:21

    It's a pity the British government couldn't have awarded the contract to a British company .The new 700s haven't exactly been a great success so far.

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    • K - 22/10/2018 22:55

      These trains are not fit for purpose.

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