British business executives have called on the government to participate in a rescue of Eurostar, the cross-Channel rail company hit by the border closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, media reported.
The London First lobby group said Eurostar needed “swift action to safeguard its future” in a letter to UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, which Bloomberg News was able to consult. This letter was signed by 25 leaders and academics.
One return trip per day between Paris and London
Until recently, Eurostar was a symbol of the ease of running TGVs in Europe. But the company – majority owned by SNCF – found itself paralyzed by the new coronavirus crisis, its platforms and special facilities in Paris, London and Brussels being almost deserted.
Currently, the group only offers one return trip per day between Paris and London, while before the pandemic, Eurostar was running two trains per hour during peak periods.
“The Eurostar company is in a critical situation, I would even say very critical,” Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, the passenger unit of the network, said on January 15.
The company, which runs high-speed trains between London and the mainland, lost 85% of its passengers in 2020 and is “on a drip”, he said.
New restrictive measures
And movement restrictions are tightening: Paris now requires travelers from the United Kingdom to test negative before leaving, followed by a quarantine of seven days in France and a second PCR test, while the Great -Brittany has also adopted new quarantine measures.
Eurostar is 55% owned by SNCF, 40% by the Patina Rail consortium – made up of 30% of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and 10% of the British fund Hermes Infrastructure – and 5% by the Belgian SNCB.