Our November piece on the future of both Eurostar and HS1 elicited quite a response from readers.
Clearly Eurostar has many friends amongst our readership, who appreciate its value to international rail.
At that time Eurostar’s schedules from London had been pared back to a single daily service to Paris plus another to Amsterdam.
Normally Eurostar would be operating around 20 daily services from London during the winter.
For its part HS1 was losing revenue from Eurostar’s toll fees.
Now some good news has emerged. Industry magazine RAIL reports the Department for Transport (DfT) as saying:
“We recognise the significant financial challenges facing Eurostar as a result of Covid-19 and the unprecedented circumstances faced by the international travel industry.
“The [UK] Government has been engaging extensively with Eurostar on a regular basis since the beginning of the outbreak, including through the Global Travel Taskforce. We will continue to work closely with them as we support the safe recovery of international travel.”
Said a Eurostar spokesman, “We have been engaging with the French government as well, but access charges [toll fees for using the tracks] are considerably higher in the UK, hence that being more of a focus.”
Eurostar is majority owned by France’s SNCF. It had been thought SNCF would aid Eurostar.
However SNCF itself is losing huge amounts of revenue during the pandemic. La Tribune reported last month that SNCF has lost revenue of €5 billion.
Fortunately the French government has granted SNCF a bailout of €4.05 billion.
Eurostar will need all the help in can get. Its website displays the same sparse schedule. Just one train to Paris and one to Amsterdam, and Brussels is reduced to a stop on the London-Amsterdam route.
Having followed the fortunes of Eurostar for almost 30 years never before have I seen such a slimmed down schedule.