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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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Europhoenix earmarks ‘91s’ for European freight use

Up to 20 Class 91s could be exported to Eastern Europe for freight duties.

Europhoenix has purchased two of the electric locomotives for initial trials abroad, and more could follow as their career on the East Coast Main Line draws to a close.

EP has bought 91117 and 91120 from Eversholt Rail Group. Both had been sent off-lease on September 25 by LNER, as more Hitachi Class 800/801 Azumas entered traffic.

EP owner Glenn Edwards told RAIL on October 4 that the locomotives would work in permanent pairs, with the blunt ends coupled together. Currently, ‘91s’ are not suitable for heavy freight haulage duty, so in partnership with Voith they will be re-geared to a lower rating to enable them to operate in this manner.

The first EP ‘91s’ have received the company’s livery, and were hauled from Bounds Green to Leicester on October 5. Both are currently stabled at the UK Rail Leasing depot and will remain there until ready for export. The conversion work will be carried out on the European mainland.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 890, published on October 23, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from October 19.

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  • Paul - 24/10/2019 09:22

    Surely there must be work for 91s configured this way in the UK? Displacing 55 year old freight liner 86s perhaps?

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    • Duncan WIlson - 29/12/2020 06:25

      The 86's are being replaced by former Greater Anglia Class 90's as we speak. The Class 91's have other characteristics which make them unsuitable for freight other than their high gear ratio. The 91 is a sensitive locomotive, and requires very precise engineering tolerances in it's maintenance, for example of the quill drive. I doubt that they will last very long in the low maintenance environment of Eastern Europe. The Class 86 is a much older locomotive, but it's tougher, and more suitable for freight than the 91.

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