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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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International travel hopes: Eurostar targets Paris uplift

Eurostar 374009 at Paris Gare Du Nord on June 3. RICHARD CLINNICK.

Government aims to set out its plans for international travel early next month, including whether people can begin travelling abroad from May 17.

A framework published on April 9 by the Global Travel Taskforce, of which Eurostar is part, suggests a traffic light system will be introduced - categorising countries based on the risk of infection as well as restrictions required for travel.

Factors to be considered will include the percentage of the country’s population that has been vaccinated, infection rates, prevalence of variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific date and genomic sequencing.

Asked by RAIL whether this offered hope for Eurostar, the company said it would not comment on Government policy.

There remains no update on the future of Eurostar, with negotiations continuing over the company’s long-term financial future. As reported in RAIL 928, it’s believed Eurostar financial situation will come to a head at the end of May and that it requires around £500 million to keep operating.

However, the cross-Channel operator is looking to increase the number of trains it runs from London-Paris (currently one) from May 17. Currently there is only a 1201 St Pancras-Paris Gare Du Nord, but that is planned to change to 0801 and 1631 departures to the French capital. These are available to book on the company’s website.

According to the realtimetrains website, there are also paths planned for Paris-bound trains leaving London at 0701, 1022, 1201, 1231, 1801 and 1901. These are ‘as required’ and cannot be booked via the Eurostar website.

Eurostar also currently operates an 1104 London-Amsterdam and that will remain after May 17. However, a path has also appeared for an 1804 departure, while there are now paths for 0901 and 1504 departures from London for Brussels Midi (currently, no trains are terminating there).

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  • Vairamuttu - 13/04/2021 08:15

    I hope both the governments remove all the obstacles

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  • Peter - 13/04/2021 10:44

    Eurostar had, up until the covid-19 restrictions, proved itself to be an extremely popular service with British people and tourists alike. The service was created jointly by the UK, France and Belgium, and huge amounts of taxpayers money from the three countries went into starting the service. Passenger numbers show that the service has proved to be a great success after a slow start, and the majority of users are British or people living here from elsewhere. The Conservative government chose to sell off its share of the company some years ago, and now seems to want to abdicate itself from any responsibilities towards the previously government owned company, citing foreign ownership as the reason. Well most of the other train companies operating in the UK have an element of foreign ownership, yet the government has rightly ensured that they survive. So why refuse the same help which it has given to foreign owned airlines and train operators for Eurostar? It is only asking to be treated in the same way, and certainly the British public will not thank this government for allowing the company to fail. Even if another enterprise took up the service it would not be for some time as travel restrictions are expected to hit the company for maybe for up to two or three years before it can break even again. Ending the service, even for a year or so, will push passengers onto less environmentally friendly forms of travel again such as air or sea crossings. Everyone then losses.

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