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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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Lockdown hits freight figures, but punctuality shows improvement

The amount of freight carried by rail was at its lowest for 22 years during lockdown, figures published by the Office of Rail and Road on September 24 reveal.

However, performance improved due to the reduction in passenger trains running, with 97% of freight trains arriving within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

The figures for April-June 2020 (Q1, 2020-21) showed that total freight moved in the quarter was 3.16 billion net tonne kilometres (ntk). Freight train kilometres fell 26% (to 6.3 million kilometres) compared with the corresponding period last year.

In terms of commodities moved, coal suffered the biggest drop in Q1 2020-21 (down 42.9 percentage points), although that remains consistent with longer-term trends. Meanwhile, international traffic dropped 39.9pp compared with the corresponding quarter last year, to its lowest quarterly level since 2007-08.

The construction sector was the hardest hit, falling 0.5bn ntk (37.5pp) from Q1 2019-20. Its market share for rail fell from 28% to 24% - its lowest for four years.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 915, published on October 7, and available digitally from October 3.


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