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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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Bombardier and CAF suspend train production, while Hitachi reduces workload

Production has been suspended at Bombardier’s Derby Litchurch Lane and CAF’s Newport factories due to COVID-19, while Hitachi has scaled back operations at its Newton Aycliffe site.

Bombardier has also suspended heavy maintenance as its Ilford depot, as well as component refurbishment and overhaul at its Crewe facility.

In a statement, the company said: “In the current unprecedented circumstances, we want to protect our people from COVID-19, support the UK Government’s efforts to delay and mitigate the virus, and ensure sustainable business continuity."

CAF’s Newport facility closed on March 24 as the company cannot maintain the safe distances set out by Government.

Deliveries of Class 196 and ‘197’ bodyshells from Spain had stopped around two weeks prior to that, as Spain is around a fortnight ahead of the UK in its response to the COVID-19 situation.

In a statement, Hitachi said: “Our colleagues in Product Introduction, Test and Validation and at our train production site are on controlled ‘standby’ with a number of safety-critical, warehouse, production and security colleagues working in person at the factory, allowing us to restart production at short notice.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 902, published on April 8, and available digitally from April 4.

  • For the FULL story regarding timetables and the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 902, published on April 8, and available digitally from April 4.

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