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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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Railway urged to keep pace with society

“We can embrace change, be changemakers and lead our industry through the challenges ahead - or we can be spectators, bystanders, watching from the sidelines.”

That was the message from Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer at the organisation’s conference in London on November 26.

Plummer said that the biggest change of all was climate change, and that he was “determined that the railway is a central part of the UK’s target to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We must be part of the solution to climate change.”

To deal with this issue requires a “complete change in our mindset”, he said. While Plummer believes that rail is ahead of other modes of travel, the industry can only make the argument successfully by demonstrating what can be done.

He also highlighted the need to change the fares structure, telling delegates: “People demand more flexibility. The railway needs to adapt to demands for travel at different times, not just the rush hour, and to changing demands from our customers. If they can book a flight or hotel, do their weekly shopping, order an outfit and arrange a date on their phone, what will they demand from their railway?

“That’s why we’re moving forward with a simplified, transparent reform of fares, and arguing for a step-change so that tickets reflect actual journeys, and customers know they can get the best available price for every part of their journey. No tricks, no hacks, just a fair price for the service you get.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 893, published on December 4, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from November 30.

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