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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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National Rail Awards 2017: Mark Hopwood Managing Director, Great Western Railway wins Outstanding Personal Contribution (Senior Management)

Since joining what was then First Great Western in 2008 as managing director, Mark Hopwood has had to content with a number of major challenges, including serious overruns and scope changes on the Great Western electrification programme, the complexities of the rebuild work at Reading and the new Crossrail programme, a series of blockades, having to vacate Old Oak Common depot for HS2 without alternative suitable facilities being ready, a cancelled franchise competition, a series of Direct Award negotiations and the challenge of introducing the new IEP trains.

Problems with the planned fleet cascade through the franchise has affected every part of the fleet and depot estate. Overcoming these challenges has involved procuring a new fleet of Hitachi high-speed trains for the west of England services and a new fleet of Bombardier EMUs for the Thames Valley commuter services. This has recently reached a major transition point, of an eight-car 110mph commuter train service from Maidenhead to Paddington.
Through all of this Mark has led his team calmly and without fanfare, overcoming every difficulty that has been placed in their way, and managing to improve the passenger experience along the way. 
Through his inspired leadership and gritty determination, Mark has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the UK rail industry.

Mark sits on the Board of the Institute of Railway Operators and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Before joining FGW, he was managing director for three rail businesses for National Express Group and prior to this he was operations director for NX Londonlines (c2c, Silverlink and WAGN), overseeing all service delivery issues on the commuter rail businesses.


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  • NickB - 25/09/2017 12:54

    As a passenger of GWR this award is astonishing. Daily cancellations, timetabled scalebacks in services and full-scale meltdowns of service have been a feature of GWR's provision this year, but what GWR have truly excelled at is sticking their head in the sand to actively retreat from any form of passenger engagement for fear of challenge, and a truly contemptuous approach to customer service. On behalf of your embittered passengers Mark, here is a big slow clap.

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  • John Devkin - 18/10/2017 09:11

    Having known Mark for a number of years I'm not surprised at this award. Thoroughly deserved.

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  • Isambard - 15/04/2018 21:50

    Latest ORR figures show PPM at it's worst score since 2007 and Cancellations 214%, due to 389% increase in crew related cancellations, again worst score since 2007. Well done!

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  • Steve - 17/10/2018 10:51

    I think it’s probably about time to give some thought to giving that award back given the disaray that presently exists- my daughter on her last 4 return trips from London to Cornwall has been cancelled upon- arrived late by 5 hours- cancelled upon again with a 64 mile car journey needed to provide an escape route and finally late by several hours again- far from happy days

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