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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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Rail staff encouraged to join the Million Hour Challenge

The anniversary of the first lockdown was used by Samaritans to encourage members of the rail industry to donate time and support to the charity’s Million Hour Challenge.

The volunteering initiative aims to bring staff together to help the charity to be there for those struggling to cope, while also improving mental health and wellbeing within the rail sector. The target is to complete a total of one million hours supporting Samaritans during Control Period 6 (April 2019-March 2024).

Research by the charity has revealed that more than a fifth of calls for help to Samaritans related to Coronavirus. This has included knock-on effects such as social isolation, relationship breakdown, loss of income and other financial worries.

Samaritans has also reported a 30% reduction in its volunteer workforce, although since restrictions were first introduced in March 2020, some 920,000 hours have still been recorded supporting those struggling to cope in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Rail staff can get involved in a number of ways, although these must still meet current pandemic restrictions. They can sign up to the Million Hour Challenge website and log their chosen activity hours to the target. This includes:

  • Organising or taking part in ‘Samarathon’ - a challenge to run, jog or walk a marathon within a month.
  • Organising awareness events or workplace tea events, including Brew Monday.
  • Sharing and raising awareness of Samaritans’ services on social media.
  • Volunteering with local branches.

“The Million Hour Challenge is a great opportunity for the rail industry to make a real difference to those who may be struggling to cope,” said Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines.

“In the past year so many people have been pushed to their limits. That’s why we want to get out and help, so please get involved!”

HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE said: “I’ve seen and felt the impact of suicide on a personal level and understand the importance of the work the Samaritans does. We launched the Million Hour Challenge to support the industry’s long-standing partnership with the charity, whose care and support is vital."

  • Sign up to begin logging hours at
  • For more on Mental Health, and how it affects the rail industry, read our supplement from RAIL 908


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