Pressure mounts for Eurostar to be saved

The UK and French governments are being urged to devise a joint solution to bail out Eurostar as Covid travel restrictions threaten its survival.

Commons transport committee chairman Huw Merriman has joined calls for the high speed Channel Tunnel passenger rail service to be saved.

Passenger numbers have collapsed by 95% since the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020 with only handful of services a day running.

Business leaders and unions are campaigning for the government to intervene to prevent Eurostar from going under amid fears it could run out of cash by the summer.

Merriman said: “Services have been stripped back to a bare minimum. It needs a joint, bespoke UK-French solution to help it through this crisis.

“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.”

The MP told The Telegraph: “We simply cannot afford to lose Eurostar to this pandemic. The company contributes £800 milion 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.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “The government must stop playing fast and loose with Eurostar and step-in now to safeguard the future of this vital green transport link to the continent.

“Our union has made ministers aware of the perilous situation at Eurostar time and again, sadly they have taken little heed. I hope they will now listen to the company because the situation could not be more serious.

“Boris Johnson and transport secretary Grant Shapps must act right now to save this vital service.”

Cortes called for the government to regain its share of ownership in Eurostar in return for financial support to keep the business afloat.

“Only by bringing Eurostar back into public hands can we guarantee the future of our green gateway to Europe,” he added.

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