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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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No difference in risk for DCO, says RSSB

The RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) says there is no difference in risk whether a train is guard-operated or run using Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) - the subject of a number of disputes between train operators and trades unions.

A ‘forensic investigation’ into six years of safety data from 2010 to 2015 concluded that the risk to passengers associated with train dispatch is “extremely low”.

The RSSB says: “The high levels of safety evident implies individual rail companies are adept at managing the specific risks local to their operations and will continue to enjoy a good safety record so long as attention is focused on managing their risks appropriately - regardless of what operation techniques they use.”

It points out that although four passengers died in accidents at the platform edge in 2016-17, there are around 500 deaths a year in the UK from food poisoning and 1,800 on the roads.

RSSB Director of System Safety and Health George Bearfield said: “Our research shows that the risks to passengers are extremely low, to the point that it is impossible to distinguish any meaningful difference between different dispatch techniques, and so illustrate that both operation with a guard and driver controlled operation (or driver only operation) are equally safe.”

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 832, published on August 2.

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