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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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French to favour rail over short-haul flights

The UK should be following the example of the French Government in its decision to restrict short-haul domestic flights in favour of rail, according to the RSSB (formerly the Rail Safety and Standards Board).

Lawmakers in France voted over the weekend of April 10/11 to introduce measures to restrict flights on routes where the same journey can be made by rail in under two and half hours.

This forms part of the country’s climate change bill aiming to cut French carbon emissions by 40% in 2030, compared with 1990s levels.

RSSB Director of Sustainable Development George Davies said: “This is a big intervention and good leadership by the French. It tackles unnecessary carbon emissions and takes full advantage of France’s high-speed, low-carbon, rail network.

“But it also recognises the need for long-haul connectivity so that international air travel is still an option, providing for domestic to international connecting flights.

“It’s not about trains versus planes, it’s about picking the right mode for the right journey type.

“To make this happen here, we need a similar commitment to high-speed rail to release capacity for lower-carbon journeys, and to electrification to make train travel even greener.”

RSSB is leading the Sustainable Rail programme for Britain’s railways, which aims to develop a coherent, unified framework for sustainability, working in partnership with industry and Government.

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  • Robert Hope - 16/04/2021 19:12

    This assumes that the only choice is rail versus air, but many air travellers would resort to road if air travel was banned. For many years I commuted weekly from Newcastle to Bristol or Cardiff. Most of the time I flew because rail was both both too slow and too expensive compared with a combination of air and rental cars. For 12 months around 2008 i would travel Swansea to Newcastle by rail every Thursday afternoon, then Cross Country took over from Virgin and the first class fare doubled, so I switched to flying from Cardiff. Over the years since I sometimes have a chuckle when I check the rail fare as it steadily climbs into the stratosphere. I can’t imagine that anyone is mad enough to pay these silly prices for a slower journey.

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