I know lots of readers are fans of Eurostar. Some of you have expressed disappointment at the train operator’s current plight.
Because of the pandemic passenger numbers have fallen by 95 per cent.
Schedules are limited to a mere two trains departing London St Pancras daily. One goes to Paris, the other to Amsterdam (via Brussels).
And as these are day return trips from London it means they are operated by two trains only. The remainder of its costly hi-tech fleet stands idle.
Yesterday however there was some good news. The Brussels Times reported on Thursday that the French and UK governments are now working on a plan to save Eurostar.
This information was revealed by France’s transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.
He was quoted in The Brussels Times as saying, “We will assist Eurostar to maintain this strategic link between our two countries”.
The aid provided to Eurostar would be “proportional pro-rata to the importance of Eurostar to each [country]”.
“When the time comes, we will lay down the principles and modalities of support, which will most certainly go through SNCF [France’s national rail operator] which is a 55 per cent shareholder in Eurostar.”
Eurostar has several shareholders. Besides SNCF (state owned) the others are Belgian Rail (state-owned) with 5 per cent, and 40 per cent held by Patina Rail consortium (private).
It’s also reported Eurostar wants access to the same guaranteed loans as the airlines ,along with a temporary reduction in the toll fees it must pay [to use the tracks].
And it would also like to see the same “health rules” applied across all four nations it serves: UK, France, Belgium and Holland.