Eurostar fans would have been able to rest easy after reading our recent report.
Just a fortnight ago it appeared certain that Eurostar would be rescued by the French and UK governments.
But this week government minister Grant Shapps “poured cold water” on the idea of a government rescue package reports City AM.
At a select committee meeting Grant Shapps said, “It’s not our company to rescue – it’s majority owned by the French state [in other words SNCF].
“We’re very, very keen for Eurostar to survive, and we’ll wait to see the plan [from SNCF].”
Further developments are awaited. France’s national rail operator SNCF owns 55 per cent of Eurostar. But France maintains that Eurostar is of greater benefit to the UK.
The UK sold its stake in Eurostar some years ago.
As previously reported the pandemic has dramatically affected Eurostar’s revenues and passenger volumes. The latter have fallen by 95 per cent.
ALLRAIL (an alliance of new rail market entrants) suggests Eurostar be opened to competition should any aid be granted.
FORTRESS London St Pancras station:
Did you know that one operator (Eurostar) manages capacity at St Pancras on the international platforms?
So how will any new entrant operator through the Channel Tunnel ever get fair access?
Asking for a friend pic.twitter.com/WyJMDIBajg
— ALLRAIL Alliance of Rail New Entrants in Europe (@ALLRAIL_EU) January 29, 2021
If it were allowed one would expect competition to be made available once passenger numbers return to normal.
Competition would be welcomed by travellers along with infrastructure bodies along its route – see our piece from 2018.
If competition were not granted one would hope Eurostar would become more adventurous and offer a “light” service like SNCF’s Ouigo TGV in France.