Today’s news from Eurostar is really a shock.
Previously when we have reported on Eurostar not serving its stations at Ebbsfleet and Ashford the news elicited complaints from our readers in Kent.
The latter resent having to make a 100 + mile backtrack to London in order to take Eurostar to mainland Europe.
It had been expected Eurostar would serve these two Kent stations from 2023 as we reported in September 2021.
But now these stations may not be served, wait for it, until another two or three years.
Travellers had little reason to doubt Eurostar would return to Kent in 2023. After all the operator has worked hard to restore its schedules to pre-pandemic levels and travellers had returned in force.
Moreover, yesterday Eurostar announced it had appointed a new CEO of the recently merged Eurostar/Thalys Group. Gwendoline Cazenave will replace current CEO Jacques Damas from October 1, 2022.
In a bullish statement Ms Cazenave announced she wanted her company to increase the passenger volume from 19 million to 30 million within the next 10 years.
Today however Eurostar issued this statement:
“We can confirm that Eurostar will not stop at Ebbsfleet or Ashford in 2023 and that we cannot make any commitment for another two or three years.
“Our recovery is progressing well but we have considerable financial commitments following the pandemic which we will continue to face for a number of years.
“Our border environment is also tougher post Brexit and further complexity is expected with the launch of the EU’s Entry Exit System.
“While we continue to operate in an uncertain and fragile environment we must focus on our most profitable inter-capital routes to enable us to meet our financial commitments, stablise our operation and customer experience before considering any further development.
“We understand that they will disappoint the local community and we will work closely and openly with local councils and the future of the stations.”
I would point out that the UK no longer any shareholding in Eurostar. France’s SNCF is the major shareholder of newly merged Eurostar/Thalys.
Readers may wonder when services to the South of France will resume.
Eurostar tells Business Traveller, “These services will not resume in 2022. We are currently focusing on our core routes.”
I shall let readers add their own comments regarding the above statement.