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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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FIRST PICTURE: Avanti West Coast's new Hitachi trains begin to arrive in UK

Avanti West Coast’s £350 million, 125mph Hitachi fleet will feature vehicles built at Newton Aycliffe, rather than assembled as has been the case with other fleets at the facility.

This was confirmed on July 3, days after the first nine bodyshells for AWC’s new fleet arrived at Southampton Docks.

Hitachi is delivering 13 five-car Class 805 bi-modes and ten seven-car Class 807 electric multiple units. These were ordered last December (RAIL 894) and are due to enter traffic from 2022.

In all previous Hitachi orders at Newton Aycliffe, the vehicles were assembled in Kasado (Japan) and shipped to the UK. Other fleets, including Great Western Railway Class 802s, several TransPennine Express ‘802s’ and Hull Trains ‘802s’, were built entirely at Pistoia (Italy).

However, following an £8.5 million upgrade at the County Durham site, with the installation of friction stir welding capabilities (as at Kasado and Pistoia), Hitachi will build 56 of the 135 vehicles at Newton Aycliffe. These are expected to be the final eight Class 807s on order (807003-807010).

The first nine bodyshells to arrive will be the five for 805001 and four from 805002. These will already undergo more assembly in the UK than previous orders (other than the First East Coast Open Access fleet), having arrived as empty shells.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 909, on sale July 15, and available digitally from July 11.


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