Since 1994 Eurostar has maintained its monopoly on high-speed (HS) rail services linking London with mainland Europe via the Tunnel.
But changes are afoot. Last Friday it was reported by Le Parisien that Getlink (formerly Eurotunnel) wants to acquire ten new HS trains which would be leased to new operators.
There is no secret that Getlink wants competition for Eurostar (majority owned by SNCF), as we reported almost four years ago.
Every Eurostar which transits the Tunnel pays a toll to Getlink, so clearly the more trains, the greater Getlink’s revenue from its tolls.
Jacques Gounon, director of Getlink, believes that Eurostar could no longer be alone in this market. Gounon said:
“I will buy them and then rent them [the trainsets]. This reduces the issue of fixed costs and the technical barrier.
“Eurostar is very good but it suffers from not having competition.
“Renfe is interested because it already competes with SNCF on its domestic network [with Ouigo ES].”
As readers will know Spain’s national operator announced its plans for Paris-London in 2020.
Added Jacques Gounon, “We would place the order in 2023 for delivery in 2026.”
HS trains are costly. It’s understood that each train costs between €40 and €50 million.
Finally I am regularly asked about Deutsche Bahn’s plans to operate via the Tunnel to London.
Well Germany’s national operator first applied for a London route in 2010, but trying to circumvent all the rules made DB abandon its plans.