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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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Network Rail overspent in every year of Control Period 5, reports NR Monitor

Network Rail overspent against its internal budget every year in Control Period 5 (CP5, April 2014-March 2019).

The overspend was due to declining efficiency, higher compensation payments to train companies, and overspend on enhancement projects - although the infrastructure manager remained within its overall funding envelope.

The findings are among the conclusions in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR’s) last Network Rail Monitor for the Control Period, which was published on July 18.

Network Rail Monitor also analyses the eight geographic routes. It found that Wales was the top performer, achieving 69.2% of the available score on the scorecards, followed by Scotland (60.7%) and Anglia (58.6%). Wessex scored lowest (48.9%).

The publication says that NR’s health and safety plans achieved “real reductions” in risks over CP5, but points out that passenger train performance suffered throughout.

Failings in NR’s underlying performance management capability became evident, and a Provisional Order was made by the regulator in November 2018, after which it says NR responded positively.

NR’s System Operator function is said to have significantly increased its train planning resources and sought to improve timetable technology, while NR’s freight performance was described as strong.

Performance of NR’s assets improved in CP5 compared with the previous five-year period, with the number of asset-related incidents decreasing.

However, there was an increase in the final year of CP5, and data shows there has been a steady rise in the amount of delay caused per incident.

The Composite Reliability Index, which measures the reliability of assets, increased by 19.9% from the end of CP4 to the end of CP5.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 884, published on July 31, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from July 27.

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