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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's Haines focuses on ‘four Rs’ to keep the railway on track

“We’re not yet seeing the threatened cull of capital or operational expenditure on railways,” Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines told a press briefing on June 8.

His statement was part of a series of “four Rs” that Haines is using to describe areas of focus for the railway during and immediately following the COVID-19 pandemic: Respond, Rebuild, Revive and Renew.

Discussing the first ‘R’, to Respond to the current situation, he felt the industry has done well during what is a “really peculiar brief to run a sensible degree of services regardless of how many people are using them”.

He said the next stage is to Rebuild the timetable, confirming that the industry is being asked to increase passenger services to 80%-85% of normal levels from Monday July 6. He is not currently concerned about passenger numbers outstripping demand, as he says we are a long way from seeing that at the moment.

Haines also commented that Network Rail has done a remarkable job of maintaining capital investment:

“In April and May we spent about £1 billion on renewal and enhancements. That’s probably unprecedented in the whole of the economy. There probably wasn’t another part of the economy that managed to sustain that level of investment.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 907, published on June 17, and available digitally from June 13.

  • For an EXCLUSIVE in-depth interview with Andrew Haines, read RAIL 905, available digitally now.

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