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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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Competition laws remain in place

Government has no plans to suspend competition laws that would benefit open access operators on the railway, according to Baroness Vere.

In a House of Lords Written Question, Lord Berkeley had asked why the competition law had been temporarily suspended for Isle of Wight ferries, and if there were plans for other modes (including open access operators).

Hull Trains was first to suspend its operations following the COVID-19 outbreak, with Grand Central following a few days later (RAIL 902). GC subsequently delayed the introduction of its new London Euston-Blackpool North service (planned for this month) to next year.

Replying to Berkeley on May 5, Vere said: “Competition law has been temporarily suspended for Isle of Wight ferry services to allow the Isle’s lifeline operators to maintain a crucial lifeline between the island and the mainland.

“With the exception of the Solent Maritime Crossings, the Government has no current plans to grant further exclusion orders for transport providers during the COVID-19 outbreak."

  • For the FULL story regarding the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 905, published on May 20, and available digitally from May 16.



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