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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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Study claims privatisation cost more than BR - but now outperforms it

Carrying BR large logo blue, DRS 37403 Isle of Mull stands at Lowestoft. RICHARD CLINNICK.

The privatised passenger railway could have cost £51 billion more to operate than if British Rail had remained in state hands, a new study suggests.

A Very Costly Industry - the cost of Britain’s privatised railway was written by John Stittle of Essex University and Sean McCartney of the University of London. It was published on May 20.

The £51bn figure represents a best-case scenario of British Rail reducing its costs by 2% per year from 1997-98, had unit costs remained stable at 1993-94 levels. Even so, the projected figure of £132.5bn is still less than the actual cost of running passenger services from 1997-98 to 2013-14 of £154bn, a difference of £21bn.

However, while under the ‘steady state’ scenario British Rail would have been more efficient than the privatised railway in most years from 1997-98 to 2010-11, the authors conclude that if passenger growth had been matched, the cost per year of the privatised railway would have been less in each year from 2011-12 to 2013-14. In the last year examined in the study, British Rail’s hypothetical costs are estimated as £10.2bn, while those of the current passenger railway were £9.3bn, excluding freight operators.

  • To read a more in-depth version of this story, read RAIL 829, published on June 21.
  • To read an EXCLUSIVE response from the Rail Delivery Group's Chief Executive Paul Plummer, read RAIL 829, published on June 21.

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