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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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ORR: passenger complaint levels remain stable

The number of passenger complaints per 100,000 journeys for franchised operators fell to 29.7 in the third quarter of 2018-19, according to the latest statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

That was marginally down on the 29.9 figure recorded for the corresponding three-month period a year before - and far less than a high of 37.8 recorded in the third quarter of 2011-12. The number of complaints for non-franchised operators was 70.6, more than double that for franchised operators, but an 18% decrease from the previous year.

Punctuality and reliability of train services was the most common reason to complain, with 23.2% of complaints nationally relating to this subject - a 4.0 percentage point (pp) decrease on 2017-18.

Insufficient room to sit or stand was the next highest category (up 1.4pp to 10% of the total), followed by onboard facilities (up 1.1pp to 9.6%), ticketing and refunds policy (up 1.5pp to 6.4% - the biggest increase), and online ticket sales (down 0.8pp to 4.2%).

The majority of operators now answer 90% or more complaints within 20 working days, with just TransPennine Express (88%), London Overground (88%) and Northern (73%) falling below that threshold. Hull Trains’ figure of 5% should be “treated with caution”, according to the ORR, which is liaising with the open access operator regarding its data quality.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 877, published on April 24, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 20.

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