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MPs call for rescue package for Eurostar from French and British governments

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MPs are calling on both the French and British governments to consider a joint rescue package for Eurostar, which has seen services decimated because of the Covid-19 pandemic and triggered fears it could fold.

The danger of the High Speed service collapsing has led to a call for both governments to join forces to help it survive the pandemic.

One of the last Eurostar E320 Siemens sets to pull into Ebbsfleet International Station in February last year
One of the last Eurostar E320 Siemens sets to pull into Ebbsfleet International Station in February last year

The company has already axed services from Ashford and Ebbsfleet, saying they will not be restored until 2022.

It has reduced its other services to just two a day between London and Paris. Earlier this week, the company issued a statement saying there was a risk to its survival and the situation was serious.

The plight of the the company came under the spotlight today at a cross-party meeting of MPs from the transport select committee.

After the meeting, transport committee chairman Huw Merriman urged the UK and French governments to set out a joint commitment to supporting Eurostar.

Concern has been growing over the future of Eurostar following plunging passenger numbers due to the impact of the pandemic and Brexit.

Eurostar has struggled during the pandemic
Eurostar has struggled during the pandemic

Huw 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 per cent 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.

“Eurostar’s traffic has fallen by over 95 per cent; services have been stripped back to a bare minimum. It needs a joint, bespoke UK-French solution to help it through this crisis.”

The issue of the company’s survival was raised in this morning’s evidence session with transport officials and experts from France, Singapore and Sweden about the challenges facing their respective transport systems as part of its inquiry on Reforming public transport after the pandemic.

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