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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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Eurostar and Thalys could merge in 2021

The planned merger of Eurostar and Thalys should happen in 2021 if plans are agreed by shareholders.

Eurostar Chief Executive Mike Copper, speaking in Paris on November 14 to mark the 25th anniversary of the cross-Channel operator, participated in a meeting the following day in the French capital to look at what the offer would be should the two operators join forces, and what the combined network could look like.

The Green Speed project was announced in late-September and would combine the resources of the two companies that serve Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Together they run 112 trains daily and carry more than 18.5 million passengers per year. That could rise to 30m under the plans.

Cooper said: “There are hidden benefits in joining with Thalys, while there’s rolling stock synergies in terms of whether we can use the e320s on their network. We need to assess the market.”

He said more details would be announced in March or April next year once more research and investigations had been carried out.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 893, published on December 4, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from November 30.

  • A full in-depth feature on the 25th anniversary of Eurostar, as well as its future, will be published in RAIL 893, on the shelves from December 4, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from November 30.


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