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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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Freight lifted falls to lowest level for 20 years

The total volume of rail freight lifted between July and September 2018 (Q2 2018-19) was at its lowest Q2 figure since at least 1996-97, according to Office of Rail and Road (ORR) statistics released on December 18.

However, the ORR’s figures show that the amount of freight moved in the quarter increased by 2% to 4.4 billion tonne-kilometres (t-km), compared with the corresponding three-month period in 2017.

ORR says that although coal, oil and petroleum traffic declined, increases in metals, construction and other areas contributed to the overall increase. The biggest increase in freight moved was in the ‘others’ category (up 7% to 0.48 billion t-km), with Metals rising by 4% to 0.35 billion t-km, Construction 3% to 1.16 billion t-km and International 1% to 0.12 billion t-km. Coal traffic continued to fall (by 5% to 0.26bn t-km,) with oil and petroleum down 3% to 0.26bn t-km.

There was better news for domestic intermodal traffic, which increased by 0.4% to 1.73bn t-km year on year, and is now at its highest level since 1996-97.

DB Cargo UK recorded a 9% decrease in freight moved, from 3.5 million freight train kilometres (FTKM) run to 3.2 million, and its share of the rail freight market fell from 41% to 38% over the year.

GB Railfreight, however, recorded a 24% increase on the same measure, to 1.7 million FTKM, and Freightliner Heavy Haul experienced a 15% rise to 0.6 million. Freightliner’s other activities dropped by 4% to 2.3 million FTKM.

Colas Railfreight increased by 1% to 0.3 million FTKM, while Direct Rail Services was stable at 0.4 million FTKM.

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