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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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Too early to assess demand for rail travel - Government

It is too early to predict what long-term impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on the demand for rail travel, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris stated in a Commons Written Reply on April 27.

Dame Cheryl Gillan (Conservative, Chesham and Amersham) had asked if the Office for Budget Responsibility’s findings that Gross Domestic Product could fall by as much as 35% in the second quarter of 2020, due to the pandemic, had been assessed by the Department for Transport against the level of demand for rail travel.

Heaton-Harris said: “There are a number of factors that will determine the demand for rail travel, including when lockdown restrictions are lifted, the nature of social distancing guidelines put in place going forward, and how people’s attitudes towards rail travel may have changed.”
He claimed that in the short term, the Government had stabilised the rail industry to ensure essential services run and that goods can be carried.

  • For the FULL story regarding the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 904, published on May 6, and available digitally now.

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