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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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Demand for stored HSTs to alleviate XC overcrowding

A petition has been sent to Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright calling for stored High Speed Trains to be used by CrossCountry.

RAIL contributor Fraser Pithie has organised the petition, with the aim of questions being asked in Parliament about the ex-Great Western Railway trains being used to alleviate overcrowding on existing XC operations.

In the House of Commons on June 24, Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon) asked what assessment had been made of the potential merits of introducing high-speed trains on XC services serving Oxford, to increase capacity.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones replied: “The Department is aware that additional capacity is needed on CrossCountry routes, including Oxford. The Department is working with the operator to introduce extra rolling stock into CrossCountry. This remains a priority for the Department as we consider successor franchise arrangements when the current franchise ends.”

However, sources within the rail industry suggest using HSTs is not a simple solution, as some believe.

One XC source told RAIL: “We cannot use the GWR power cars without the Automatic Train Protection being removed, as none of our drivers are trained on it. Until that changes, and the Direct Award is sorted out, there’ll be no change. We do need more stock, though!”

In his letter to Wright, Pithie writes: “The routes between Reading, Coventry, Birmingham and Derby are particularly affected, as are some services between Bristol and Birmingham. Using HSTs would replace four and five-coach trains with seven-coach trains, significantly increasing the available seats while also overcoming the weather-related reliability issues in the South West affecting passengers between Exeter, Newton Abbot, Plymouth and beyond.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 882, out now.

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  • AndrewJG8918 - 10/07/2019 07:52

    Why not use the Class 43 HST with Mk3 coaches in Wales and yes to use the Class 43 as freight trains and used on charter services. Rather than scrapping them which will be devastating if they were to be scrapped as some are already in service as short sets on GWR and in Scotland used by ScotRail.

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  • BillD - 10/07/2019 19:49

    GWR class 43s may be fitted with ATP but LNER ones coming off lease are not! Perhaps XC could wait a short while for these to become available. In the meantime, mk3s could be obtained and put through the required upgrade.

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  • Nova 3 - 11/07/2019 20:49

    Best route for the HSTs is the Penzance/ Plymouth to Edinburgh/ Aberdeen.

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  • Klaus Eldritch - 12/07/2019 06:36

    About time at last I live in Southampton and the a.ount of times travelling back from oxford and you sre standing. 3 2nd class coaches on a Scotland to Bournemouth service is ridiculous by the time you get on at oxford your standing. Why should customers pay stupid prices to stand on a crammed unit.

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