MEPs write to French and UK governments to safeguard future of Eurostar

Eurostar runs the London to Paris and London to Brussels rail services that go under the Channel Tunnel.
Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

24 Feb 2021

Deputies from the Greens/EFA, S&D, GUE/NGL and EPP political groups, together with UK Green Peers Nathalie Bennet and Jenny Jones, have signed the letter, which has also been sent to European Transport Commissioner Adina-Ioana Vălean.

Irish MEP Ciarán Cuffe, who sits on the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, initiated the letter in response to public concerns about the future of the service between the UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The rapid fall in demand for travel due to the COVID-19 crisis has left many transport operators struggling. Eurostar has seen a 95 percent drop in passenger numbers since the pandemic began.

Cuffe told this website, “Allowing Eurostar to fail would mean significant job losses and deal a massive blow to sustainable travel between the UK and the EU.”

He added, “Together with a group of cross-party MEPs and colleagues in the UK, I am calling on all sides to work together to ensure a solution is found as soon as possible.”

“Allowing Eurostar to fail would mean significant job losses and deal a massive blow to sustainable travel between the UK and the EU”

Ciarán Cuffe, Greens/EFA

“Eurostar’s survival is in the interests of both the EU and the UK. If this requires funding from both the UK and French governments, then the money must be found. Sustainable travel deserves support.”

Cuffe said, “Airlines have received massive support to survive the pandemic. Therefore, it is fitting that more sustainable travel modes also receive the help they deserve to recover as travel resumes later this year.”

Eurostar has also called on the UK government to provide it with the same financial support handed to grounded airlines over concerns about a possible collapse.

Christophe Fanichet, a senior executive from SNCF, the French state railway and part-owner of Eurostar, said last month that the London-based company was in “a very critical” state.

Speaking recently, French junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told a parliamentary hearing that the French state is ready to help Eurostar and is in talks with the British government over the matter.

“Airlines have received massive support to survive the pandemic. Therefore, it is fitting that more sustainable travel modes also receive the help they deserve to recover as travel resumes later this year” Ciarán Cuffe, Greens/EFA

Eurostar is 55 percent owned by the SNCF, 30 percent by Canadian fund manager CDPQ, 10 percent by Britain-based fund Hermes Infrastructure, and five percent by the Belgian railway SNCB.

The MEP letter says, “The past year has been very difficult for people. Transport operators have been severely impacted by the crisis and are struggling financially given the huge fall in demand for travel.”

“The situation of the rail operator Eurostar is no different and the future of rail travel across the Channel is at risk.”

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