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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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Widespread support for 30-year rolling stock strategy

Speakers at a RIA conference panel discussion on a 30-year rolling stock strategy expressed widespread support for such a scheme.

Porterbrook Chief Executive Mary Grant was among those calling for the 30-year strategy.

“At the end of the day, it’s about creating a marketplace that provides for the customer, businesses, and crucially for the whole supply chain. It’s an entire circular economy,” she said.

However, South Western Railway Managing Director Mark Hopwood warned: “I don’t like the idea of 30-year Soviet-style plans. We need to have flexibility. If we go 30 years back, that would take you to 1990, and very few people in 1990 would have had a clue what we needed to be doing today in 2020.

“But I absolutely want us to have a high-level strategy. And we certainly need a framework and we need to integrate the different parts of the industry.”

Hopwood said the biggest challenge for rolling stock would be delivering around decarbonisation. He called for the strategy to be integrated with infrastructure and electrification strategies and argued that there should be competition in the rolling stock market for vehicles and finance.

Govia Thameslink Railway Chief Executive Steve White said that the railway needs insight, innovation, cohesion and prioritisation in delivery, to help it recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He believed that there is merit in a 30-year strategy, but that it would need to complement the decarbonisation and rail technical strategies.

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 918, published on November 18, and available digitally from November 14. 

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  • Andrew Gwilt - 25/11/2020 04:01

    Perhaps don’t scrap the Class 458 that is to be replaced by the Class 701. Because I think that Alstom could convert the Class 458 as Hydrogen MU. Since they have built the Class 458 and converted them from 4-Car to 5-Car when the Class 460 used on Gatwick Express were replaced by the Class 442 and then the Class 387/2. And parts of the Class 460 were fitted onto the Class 458.

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