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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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More new trains on LNER wish list

LNER has revealed it is in the market for new trains, despite only just starting to introduce its new Hitachi Azumas.

Engineering Director John Doughty told RAIL that the operator needs more vehicles to meet the requirements of the planned timetable upgrade in 2021.

Initially the plan was to retain Class 91s with shorter rakes of Mk 4s that would be used on limited-stop expresses between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh. However, that has changed because the older stock would need significant rebuilding and refurbishment following a period out of traffic.

Doughty said: “We will need new trains to support the timetable change, otherwise it will be tight.” 

He explained that “slightly more than six” would be required, but did not give a definitive number. These would likely be ten-car trains. LNER later confirmed the figure was could be from six to eight.

Ideally, the company would like to increase its existing Hitachi order. However, the operator must comply with European Union regulations which decrees there must be an open competition. Doughty said there was no option for additional Azumas, and that the 65 on order would be the only ones from that contract.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 885, published on August 14, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from August 10.

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  • Duncan Wilson - 14/08/2019 08:03

    If I was the one ordering these new trains, I would ignore EU guidelines, and award the contract to Hitachi. This contract would be for 8, 10 car Class 801 EMU's. Also in the order would be 30 Motor Standard's to extend all 30 Class 801/2's to 10 cars.

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  • AndrewJG8918 - 17/08/2019 17:41

    Is it true that the Class 91s is to face getting scrapped. Or will they still survive but to be stored. As the Azumas are taking over the East Coast Main Line.

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    • Duncan Wilson - 25/08/2019 11:33

      Hi Andrew. Many 91's, if not all of them will be scrapped as it currently stands, starting with 91108 which is already being stripped for spares. Unfortunately, Grand Central will no longer be using Class 91's on the West Coast Mainline, and will instead be using Class 90's. It makes sense for them, but is a shame. There's no hope for Virgin's Liverpool open access bid being successful as its primarily abstractive, and designed really as a revenge stunt. Over on the GWML there is a slight possibility of Class 91's being used between Paddington, and Cardiff, but I think that is also a no go. GWR are already introducing a third, hourly limited stop Cardiff service anyway. That coupled with the other extra services GWR are going to be operating leaves no demand, or capacity at Paddington for an open access service. There was talk of using a Class 91 TnT with A HST powercar for Bi-Mode High Speed Parcels, but I think that was just pie in the sky thinking common in railway discussions. People often let wishful thinking rule their brains. So, while three rakes of four MK4 Coaches will go to Transport for Wales, and five rakes of seven to Grand Central, as it currently stands there is no future work for the Class 91's, and they are all at risk of being scrapped. Hopefully one can be saved for the National Collection, and perhaps the AC Locomotive Group may be interest in one too.

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  • James - 19/08/2019 11:19

    Basically it's going to be 802's then, I don't see why the government couldn't intervene and increase the order slightly. Another option would be to have LNER order 8 Class 802s, but swap the order when they are delivered for 8 GWR Class 800s, that way GWR get more 802s which are better for its network, and LNER get a standard Class 800 fleet.

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    • Duncan Wilson - 25/08/2019 12:01

      Hi James. The current Intercity Express Train contract has no provision for extra trains being tagged on so, the extra trains will have to come as part of a new order. Even if the DfT did intervene directly, it would still have to be a new order, and EU law means that the new contract has to go out to tender for all manufacturers to bid on equally. Even when we leave the EU, EU law will be transferred into British law (at first) to ease the transition, so LNER would still need to go through the full tender process. I doubt if LNER will order 802's. My bet would be eight, ten-car Class 801's. It would increase core capacity, and allow 800's to be moved off of purely electric services, increasing capacity overall. The problem with swapping GWR sets with LNER would be the need to rebuild the interiors of the GWR sets to LNER standards, they are really quite different. Also, all of the 800's currently in service with GWR, and LNER have had their engines uprated to 940bhp, the same as the 802's anyway, so there's no advantage to the swap. The only difference now between the Class 800's, and the Class 802's is the size of the fuel tanks. Class 800's have 1,300 litre tanks, and 802's have 1,500 litre tanks.

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  • BillD - 09/10/2019 08:14

    Is that more trains or more diagrams? As the Azumas are currently provided on a filled diagram basis, if an order were to be placed on a number of units basis it could complicate matters. An easier solution would be to place an order for a number of diagrams thus keeping an homogenous fleet.

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