Britain and France must work together to save Eurostar, says MP

The British and French governments must work together to save a struggling Eurostar, warns MP.

Huw Merriman, the Conservative chairman of the Transport Select Committee, said “we cannot afford” to lose the Channel train link.

The service has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is a 95% fall in passengers.

Before lockdown restrictions it was running more than 50 services a day – that’s down to one.

The line is said to be “fighting for its survival”.

Eurostar is 55% owned by French state rail company SNCF.

The British Government sold its stake to private firms for £757 million in 2015.

Huw Merriman MP

Mr Merriman said: “We simply cannot afford to lose Eurostar to this pandemic.

“The company contributes £800 million each year to the UK economy.

“It is unique in offering an environmentally friendly, direct, connection to mainland Europe.

“Trips from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam on the Eurostar emit between 80-90% less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger than the equivalent short-haul flights.

“Like airlines, quarantine and travel restrictions have blighted Eurostar’s access to its markets during the pandemic.

“Unlike airlines, Eurostar has been shut out from government loans that have offered a lifeline.

“It needs a joint, bespoke UK-French solution to help it through this crisis.”

The Transport Select Committee was told by experts that the UK will have to help.

Professor Yves Crozet, of the University of Lyon, said:

“I suppose that the French government will support Eurostar, but not alone.

“We will have probably an arm wrestling between the UK and France about that.

“But clearly Eurostar is a subsidiary of SNCF, and SNCF has the majority of the capital.

“So clearly the money will come from France in a very important part but maybe France will ask the UK to give also some hand to the system.”


About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.

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